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Sally Too

BBC: The return of heritage fruit and veg varieties

Just found this article on the BBC site...

Looks interesting - I'm reading it now.

This is been 'rumbling' on the 'back benches' for while now..more and more folk is getting interested of the heritage veg. Sad thing is that stupid legislation made heritage varieties 'illegal' 'black market' of seed trafficking has been very busy.. Laughing The rarer the variety and better 'currency' it has been in swaps.. Laughing

But it is almost magical to grow and eat something same that people long gone have had as well.

I don't grow many 'modern' varieties at all anymore..the oldies may not crop as heavily..but are much more interesting to look at and definately tastier. Tomorrow I'm going to sow more of these magical 'old' seeds. Very Happy
Sally Too

Yup - totally agree. I love the Real Seeds people and also have some of the Heritage Seed Library varieties... And then of course saving seed to grow again is good...
Mistress Rose

There was a brief revival of interest in this when the Victorian Kitchen Garden etc. were on TV some years ago. A few of these varieties are still available through main stream suppliers, so suppose them must have gone through the registration.

It is a shame that respectable people have to resort to the "black market" to get seeds. Legislation has to be very carefully targeted and often isn't.

Sad thing is that stupid legislation made heritage varieties 'illegal'

Why would a veg be made illegal? Surely veg is veg?

Sad thing is that stupid legislation made heritage varieties 'illegal'

Why would a veg be made illegal? Surely veg is veg?

Same Question there is only one thing that people grow that I thought was illegal

To be 'legally sold' (in the UK anyway) the seeds must be registered etc with the powers that be; apparently costs thousands, if not tens of thousands. That's how I understand it, and if you actually sell your own home saved seed, it is technically illegal. Hence when you join the Seed Library at HDRA you pay to join and get the seeds for free. Hence the proliferation of seed swaps, great idea one in the eye for those that wish to try and control what is available. Stuff them i say, carry on swapping and giving away your seed to ensure its survival into the future, and say no to GM seeds and F1. sgt.colon

Thanks Luath. What a bloomin stupid law I have to say. What's it really matter as long as it's feeding people? centaurea

The Ecotech centre where I work has a fabulous heritage orchard which is absolutely beautiful atm. Having tasted most of the fruit grown in it I have to say there is no doubt that they are much superior in flavour, the pears in particular and they crop heavily most years. We would love to grow loads more heritage fruit and vegetables but, as we are strictly organic, the prices are prohibitive for the more unusual ones.
It makes no sense to me to that varieties bred for their suitability for local soils and conditions can no longer be freely bought and sold. Instead we are seduced into buying and growing all those exotics which might well be delicious and interesting , but they're not exactly eco friendly are they? They all need much more heat and brighter light than we can naturally give them in the UK. I dunno quite how I can justify all the extras environmentally. Getting more heritage types might be a way though...but you need cash for that!

Maybe your organisation could join a seed swap/share scheme though and after the first year or two save your own seed, set up your own local swaps etc ? There are ways and means, just needs a different approach.
These big company bully boy tactics have to be stood up to or we're all doomed, horticulurally speaking (and therefore in many other respects). Don't let anyone steal your local heritage from you.

Stand up to the seduction too - you know you can do it Laughing

Thanks Luath. What a bloomin stupid law I have to say. What's it really matter as long as it's feeding people?

As usual, all about protecting profits and making money. Sad old world. Just need to cosntantly fight against things like this
Mistress Rose

Part of it is for profit of course, but I think the original idea was to ensure that seeds bred true and were viable, particularly for large scale producers.

Unfortunately, as with all beurocratic ideas, ways had to be found to stop people getting round them, which added to the complexity and cost. Hence the heritage seeds being priced out of the system.

Seed swap is a good way of getting unusual seeds out to people, and it makes sure that they are the sort that are not going to get ratty if their plants and produce are not all identical.

It's great to see this. Heritage varieties need preserving, but at the same time I do think we should continue breeding plants for new varieties. Our ancestors preserved good varieties, dropped the poorer ones and bred new ones and we should do likewise to continue developing new varieties for different conditions, tastes and disease resistance.
But of course this is also where heirloom varieties come in - many of them are adapted to particular things and can be bred with other varieties to create new, improved varieties. There are tough apple varieties for example such as "Katja" or all rounders such as "Elstar" which are modern varieties with heirlooms in their pedigrees which give them their defining traits.

So in my opinion preserve, but also continue to develop. Some people will naturally favour tried and tested heirlooms, others will seek promising new varieties. Personally I try to combine both and have a mixture of common heirlooms and newer varieties in my garden.

I'd advice anyone interested in the topic to take a look at this book - some of the histories of older varieties are truly fascinating:

I've borrowed it from the local library a few times.

Is it worth mentioning

All our seeds come from there or from free sources...

There are lots of regulations with regards to 'seeds' and even more so for seed potatoes.

The variety of seed may well have Plant Breeders' Rights (applies to most modern varieties), but not all. As the process to get Breeders rights is expensive and tortuous. Checkout

So if the seed does not have Plant Breeders Rights it could well be the name is Trade Marked.

Also the International Convention for the Protection of Plant Varieties means that itís illegal to sell any seed that isnít on the National List.

The seed itself has to be verified for its percentage germination, and has to be packaged to maintain that germination. There are things like Official Seed Samplers, Official testing stations and certificates of test.

Other checks for
a) Varietal identity
b) Varietal purity
c) Analytical purity
d) Germination capacity
e) Level of weed and other crop seeds permitted
f) Level of seed-borne diseases

Also the seed supplier, merchant, packer or processor has to be registered, especially with regards to importing and exporting, and regularly inspected.

For more in depth reading check out

For a list of authorized companies licensed for seed marketing operations in England and Wales checkout

That list is interesting to see who is on it, and who isn't. Males you think about all the listings on well known auction sites.

There is a bit of a grey area, as these rules relate to 'business' and not amateur use. It also used to be OK that if you are a member of a amateur seed club it is OK to distribute seeds within that club.

This however has now been changed but the seed packets must be labeled "amateur seed not for commercial exploitation".

Equally these laws apply to all fruit trees, ornamentals and rootstocks, in fact all plants even down to pollen.
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