Garden Organic gets royal seal of approval

VIPs, Garden Organic Stand, Edible Garden Show

Garden Organic has had the royal seal of approval with a visit from HRH the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at the Edible Garden Show in London. The charity, based at Ryton Organic Gardens outside Coventry, was exhibiting at the show in London to raise awareness for its work to protect the UK’s rare heritage seeds.

And if the royal visit wasn’t exciting enough, Garden Organic also had world-renowned chef Raymond Blanc OBE on the stand to lend his support to their work. Both HRH the Prince of Wales and Raymond Blanc are long-term supporters of the charity, as Patron and Vice-President respectively, and like to remain involved and up-to-date with the work that the charity undertakes.

Protecting the UK’s plant heritage is incredibly important for Garden Organic and its members. Through its popular Heritage Seed Library, the charity works tirelessly to collect and conserve an ever-increasing variety of historic and heirloom vegetables; directly contributing to a reverse in the decline of genetic diversity. Unlike most collections, the Heritage Seed Library makes its seeds available to members to grow themselves, creating a living library.

Raymond Blanc is a keen supporter of the Heritage Seed Library. Following a competition run in association with Garden Organic last year, he is currently developing a heritage garden at his extraordinary restaurant with rooms Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire. The garden will feature rare vegetable varieties from Garden Organic’s Heritage Seed Library, favoured by the two Michelin star chef due to their great taste and interesting appearance.

Heritage Seed Library Manager, Neil Munro commented: “Having the support of HRH the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and Raymond Blanc OBE helps us fantastically. Our work to protect and conserve these varieties is very successful, but also very expensive. The more we can raise awareness, the more support we hope to receive for our work.”

Garden Organic’s work to preserve heritage seeds has had to take a different tack lately as the charity has been fighting proposed EU legislation. This legislation, called the Plant Reproductive Materials Directorate, could make seed swap networks such as the Heritage Seed Library unviable by imposing a highly bureaucratic regulatory structure, potentially reducing the number of plant varieties grown by over 90%.

The charity recently received the good news that they have succeeded in having the most recent version of the proposed legislation thrown out by current MEPs, following a period of intense lobbying by Garden Organic, its members and partner organisations across Europe. However, it is highly likely that the proposals will be resubmitted after the May European Parliament elections. The European Seed Association (ESA), which represents the big seed producers, is pushing for this to happen and if they get their way it won’t be sympathetic to the Heritage Seed Library.

The charity is asking for individuals to support their campaign by joining Garden Organic and the Heritage Seed Library, donating to their campaign, or writing to their MEP. For full details of the Heritage Seed Library and the rest of the work the charity undertakes visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk.

Posted: 
Tuesday, 1 April 2014