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The Wakehurst Seed Festival including The Great Seed Swap

Gemma Toothill
10 September 2013
Blog team: 
Preparations are well underway for this year’s Seed Festival. It is set to be a fantastic day with something for the whole family from workshops, tours and talks to swapping seeds and exciting activities for the kids. The setting for this year’s Seed Festival will be Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.

What goes on at a Seed Festival?

Seed swaps encourage and inspire people to grow vegetables and fruit and to experiment with different varieties, particularly heritage and traditional types that were once so important in British gardens.


Swapping Seeds at last years Seed Swap Table
Swap them, buy them, learn about growing them…it’s the festival that’s all about SEEDS!

Gardeners will be able to swap seeds from plants they have grown at home for seeds from a range of garden vegetables and flowers grown by other enthusiasts. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst has the largest wild seed collection in the world - although we won’t be using seeds from the Seed Bank in the Seed Swap!

No Seeds To Swap?

You don’t have to bring seeds with you to swap. Seeds from allotment and community groups and specialist growers will be available for a small donation.

In need of ‘seedy’ advice?

We have some great informative talks and practical demonstrations lined up this year to help give you advice on saving and storing your seeds. There will also be a wealth of expert advice and information on hand to help you make the most of your own plot, whether you have a large garden, a small backyard, or even just a window box.


Allotment Stall Holder Seed Swap 2012
Stall holders hold a wealth of advice....and smiles!

Inspiring and Informative Talks

There will also be a range of other great talks from some amazing people that are not to be missed. So far the following speakers have been confirmed:

Tom Hart-Dyke - author of 'Plant Hunter with Passion', 'Kidnapped in Paradise’
Tom is a horticulturalist, plant hunter and author. Famously taken captive in 2000 in the Columbian jungle while plant hunting with a companion, he kept himself going by designing his dream garden. On returning to Lullingstone Castle in Kent he decided to make his dream a reality, designing and building The World Garden within the walled Victorian herb garden (the subject of a BBC2 series). Tom’s adventures continue as he travels the world hunting for plants. (Tom's website)

Olly Whaley – Food Security
Olly is Kew’s Latin America Projects Officer. After starting work in the Amazon rainforest 20 years ago, Oliver’s focus quickly shifted to the arid regions and conservation of tropical dry forest - key regions for the production of food. Today he leads a programme in Peru, enabling local people to benefit from native threatened crops and develop sustainable agriculture in a globalised world, whilst at the same time conserving and restoring the supporting ecosystem.

Neil Munro - 'Going to Seed: Top Tips for Saving Seeds from Vegetables'
Neil is Manager of the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) at Garden Organic. HSL maintains a seed collection, mainly of European varieties that have either been dropped from popular seed catalogues, or are landraces or heirloom varieties that have never been available through catalogues. The seed collection is made available to HSL members. Neil will tell us how we can grow seeds from heritage vegetables and how to ensure each variety remains pure.


Photo of James Wong signing a book
James Wong signing his book for fans following his talk ‘Homegrown Revoloution’ at last year’s Seed Swap

Behind the Scenes Tours

For those of you who have an inquisitive mind or just fancy having a snoop behind the scenes at Wakehurst Place, this year we will be running the following tours at regular intervals throughout the day - but places are limited, so sign up when you arrive to avoid disappointment!

Children’s Activities

The range of activites for this year’s Seed Festival will keep kids of all ages entertained, although we can’t promise they won’t get messy!


Getting creative (and messy!) on one of the many children’s activities tables last year

Shopping & Food Stalls

Last year’s event packed in over 50 stall holders ranging from seed suppliers, food stalls, experienced growers and local producers and this year will be no different! Here are just some of this year’s confirmed stall holders:

There will also be various food and beverage stalls to feed your appetites from hot snacks to homemade cakes and coffee to cater for all your hungry desires and thirst cravings!

Seedy Distractions

No seed festival would be complete without some seed-related entertainment and we have some unusual diversions for you to listen to, watch, and even participate in!

And finally…

Visitors will also be able to find out about the vital work of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank and discover how Kew is helping to safeguard the world’s most endangered plants.

- Gemma Toothill -

Related links


17 September 2013
Great to read about this event Gemma... looks like it'll be a fascinating day!
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