Sowing New Seeds

Sowing New Seeds has enabled gardeners, allotment holders, schools and community groups in the Midlands to grow exotic crops that are not traditionally grown in the UK.

  • Over the last 40 years, the range of foods that we consume has broadened to encompass a whole range of cultures.
  • There is already a wealth of non-traditional crops grown on allotments in the UK, but they are in danger of disappearing as the skills to grow them are not being passed onto younger generations.

This project has captured and preserved this resource and made it available to those who want to grow these crops. We have collected seeds and knowledge from many countries including Jamaica, India, Bangladesh, Guyana, China, Pakistan, Japan, Zimababwe, Ethiopa and many more.

What the project achieved

Over the course of the project, we have:

  • Collected seeds and knowledge and safeguarding them for future generations
  • Made seeds for unusual crops available through Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library
  • Gathered knowledge and made it available to people through a range of resources
  • Supporting groups within the Midland and beyond to grow exotic crops
  • Set up a demonstration garden at Ryton Organic Gardens

Useful resources

Sowing New Seeds created a lot of resources including growing factsheets, simple growing cards, activity card game and cooking videos. These are available for anybody to download.

Evaluation of the project

In 2013, the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security (CAFS) at Coventry University carried out an evaluation of Garden Organic's work in 2013 for the Sowing New Seeds project. You can read a summary of the findings here.


We gratefully acknowledge the Big Lottery Local Food Fund for providing the funds to carry out this work. The project was also received financial support from the Brooke Trust, Cadbury Trust, Grimmet Trust, Sheldon Trust, Oram Foundation and the Open Gate Foundation. We acknowledge the staff at our partner sites, Spitalfields City Farm, Shades of Black and Bradford Community Environment Project who made us welcome and were vital in making the project a success. Lastly we are very grateful to all the growers who gave us seeds and took the time to tell us about the fascinating crops they are growing!