Alternative text should describe the visual content of the image.

Projects and activities

Sowing new seeds resources

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

You can also download growing cards produced from Growing from My Roots, below. The project documents the oral history and culture of food growing withing multicultural communities in the West Midlands. This project is supported through the National Lottery by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


These are A4 fact sheets give detailed growing information about growing unusual crops.

Growing cards

These cards present the basic facts for growing unusual crops and are useful as a point of reference for schools or community groups.

You can also download growing cards from our Oral History project here:

Activity card game

See if you can match the seeds with the plants and the names! This game contains photos of 12 different unusual crops and is a useful resource for schools and community groups.

Cooking advice

We filmed people preparing dishes from Ivory Coast, Gujarat and Jamaica.

You can also download our recipe sheet here.

Review of the wider benefits of growing exotic crops

Garden Organic carried out a review in conjunction with the University of Birmingham to examine the role of growing exotic crops in genetic conservation and food security.

Download the review here.

It is clear that there is a gold mine of specialist knowledge, experience and seeds held by multicultural communities growing crops in allotments and gardens in the UK. The Sowing New Seeds project has gone a long way in capturing and preserving some of this precious resource. However, there is much beyond this being a fascinating wealth of information. The small-scale growing of multicultural crops could have essential roles in genetic conservation and food security. * University of Birmingham and Garden Organic analysed and reviewed survey data collected during interviews with allotment plot-holders at 31 sites around the Midlands

Some of the headline findings were:

  • The percentage of growers over 70 was far higher for Caribbean growers than British white growers. This is a clear message that the knowledge for cultivating exotic crops is in danger of being lost as information is not passed on to younger generations.
  • We found that a significant proportion (38%) of the exotic crops are grown from self-saved seed. This is important as it indicates that these crops are diversifying and adapting to local conditions.It is encouraging to find that 73% of growers swap seeds with others—another way of increasing crop diversity, and ensuring that rare varieties are grown and not lost.
  • This review has highlighted the importance of allotment plot-holders in conserving both traditional and exotic crops and the vital role of exotic crops in the UK’s multicultural society. Critically, the long-term security of allotments is vital for the preservation of this important source of knowledge and resources for food security.