Introducing the Seed Revolution Tee!
A collaboration with artist Isla Middleton for the Seed Gathering 2021
Introducing our Seed Revolution t-shirt range! A stunning set of eco t-shirts born out of Gaia’s Seed Sovereignty UK and Ireland Programme, which is bringing diversity and resilience back to our seed system.
We believe that a food revolution starts with seed.
We’ve worked with artist Isla Middleton to create the design emblazoned across the tees. It’s the motif of our first ever Seed Gathering, which takes place on Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 October 2021. Book your tickets here!
The Seed Revolution series features a number of designs, styles, cuts and colours to choose from, so we hope there’s something for everyone. All of the tees are produced using natural inks and printed on organic cotton, plus they can be traded in once worn.
Our UK & Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme supports everyone from small-scale commercial seed producers and market gardeners, to community groups and and allotmenteers with trainings in seed saving and seed production, useful resources and thriving local networks. Collectively we’re committed to locally produced and adapted seed and together our network is helping to restore, protect and increase the seed diversity of the UK and Ireland. Buying a t-shirt will directly support this work!
The Story Behind the Design
With a popular series of foraging posters and calendars, Isla Middleton’s work had caught the attention of Gaia’s Seed Sovereignty Team and we knew that her earthy style would suit the Seed Gathering poster and t-shirt perfectly. Isla usually sources inspiration for her designs from plant forms, flowers and natural colours from her immediate surroundings, but we challenged her to create a design featuring three seeds in particular – oats, beans and chillies – as each relates to a particular story connected to our UK & Ireland Seed Sovereignty Programme.
The delicate oats framing the top left of the design represent farmer Gerald Miles’ search for the welsh black oats that his grandfather once grew on his coastal farm in Pembrokeshire. Our short film, Llafur Ni (Our Grains), shares his story. A powerful tale of the interconnections of language, (agri)culture and seed.
The elegant beans on the right represent Professor Colin Leakey’s life-long work on stable, digestible beans in the UK. Some of these varieties are being preserved by his daughter, Tamsin, with support from our Northern England network.
And lastly, the chillies reflect the work of growers in the Southwest Seed Savers Network, who are collectively saving and cultivating many varieties of chillies and other crops.
The Seed Sovereignty Programme – the work the T-shirts Support!
As the T-shirts proudly state, the sentiment behind the Seed Sovereignty Programme is that a food revolution starts with seed. So whilst it’s been incredibly exciting to see the public awareness of the need to support and buy healthy, nutrient rich and organically produced food, it has felt like the there weren’t enough people talking about the source of all this in the first instance: the seed.
And so, in 2017 the Gaia Seed Sovereignty Programme was born. The Programme responded to a clear need to strengthen the diversity, resilience and accessibility of our seed system in order to counter the impact of industrial scale agriculture and agri-business on biodiversity and control of seed. A team of dedicated coordinators were recruited and are now based right across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland in order to support small-scale seed producers current and future, who place diversity, localism, taste and nutrition at the heart of what they do. People like Real Seeds, The Seed Cooperative and the Irish Seed Savers to name just a few! Meet them all via the Seed Sovereignty website.
Thanks to our Green Fingered Models!
Huge thanks to market gardeners Vallis Veg on the outskirts of Frome in Somerset, who kindly turned their hands to modelling for the day. When not modelling, sociologist turned farmer and author Chris Smaje can be seen talking about the principles of his wonderful book A Small Farm Future. We hosted Chris and Cordelia from Vallis alongside James Turner from Glimpse and Peter Macfadyen from Flatpack Democracy for a Gaia Evening talk in Frome in September. You can watch the discussion here.
To mark the launch of the Seed Revolution t-shirt launch we’ve interviewed Ellis Bowdler from Vallis Veg about her passion for seed saving. Ellis has been part of Gaia’s Seed Sovereignty Intermediate Training course and hopes to set up her own small seed company in north Devon in the future.
Thanks also to photographer Ally Nelson, model Sara Omer and to artist Isla Middleton.