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Article and Photos by Elisa Mussio for Navdanya International, 26 February 2016

On Sunday 7th February Brighton’s Corn Exchange hosted Seedy Sunday 2016. Sponsored by Infinity Foods – one of the UK’s leading wholesale distributors of  Organic and natural foods – Seedy Sunday is the UK’s biggest and longest-running seed-swapping event, currently in its 15th year.

As an intern with Navdanya International for Seed Freedom, I was asked to participate in the event by attending, taking pictures and writing this brief report. The event took place throughout the whole day, offering a wide range of activities for all age groups. These included not only seed swapping but also activities for kids, talks by leading experts and the possibility of getting important information on organic food from direct producers, local growers and local green project organizers.

The event attracted gardening enthusiasts as much as curious passers-by, who had come not only from Sussex but from all over Britain to Brighton especially for the occasion.

The aim is to raise awareness among to the whole community – from the young to the old – about the importance of food sovereignty, of swapping seeds, and, perhaps most importantly about the importance of saving seed varieties in the first place. Seedy Sunday offers an occasion to revindicate small-scale producers’ ability to freely save and exchange seeds of indigenous (non genetically-modified) varieties; these are crucial for the preservation of soil fertility and biodiversity, as opposed to the genetically modified varieties advanced by giant agribusiness companies and the intellectual property patents that the latter put over these varieties.

Seedy Sunday’s organisers support small-scale farmers and local producers in the fight for direct consumer control over the means of food production against the monopoly of corporate interests.

People from all over Britain prepare for the event by starting to collect and save seeds, sometimes even by starting seed banks or by organizing into communities to take collective action. These are to be exchanged upon arrival with other participants; however, those who did not have the chance to bring any varieties for swapping can easily make a small donation for a seed parcel. Participating throughout the whole day and not just ‘popping in’ means not only that more varieties can be swapped, as the flow of participants and seeds increases, but also that one gets the chance to meet a greater number of interesting people. Impeccably organised, the kindness of assistance and availability of all Seedy Sunday volunteers, organisers and stallkeepers deserves praise, yet interesting knowledge, projects or stories were also shared by those who came as visitors.

The most remarkable thing, in my opinion at least, was that throughout its whole duration the event was marked by an underlying merry feeling commonly shared from the cooperation: Seedy Sunday has shown once again that a common path toward sustainable and local-based alternatives in agriculture is possible, and can be achieved by cooperation toward a common goal.