Ep.3 - Committed to Seed
‘There is so little we know about who our food guardians have been because, until so very recently, saving seed and protecting crop resources was like breathing, a natural part of the seasons of life.’ - Anita Hayes
Anita Hayes is the founder of Irish Seed Savers Association, based in Scariff, Co. Clare. Irish Seed Savers Association maintains the country’s only public seed bank, with over 600 non-commercially available varieties of seed. Additionally, Irish Seed Savers association house the national collection of Irish heritage apple trees, with over 180+ unique varieties.
Anita Hayes was born in the American Midwest and moved to Ireland with her husband Tommy Hayes in 1989. During her studies in Ecological Agriculture at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington she was shocked to learn of the risks to food security through the loss of genetic biodiversity and began to focus her studies in this area. Inspired by the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa in the US, Anita found that there was no similar organization in Ireland. Acutely aware of the importance of the work, Anita and her husband Tommy decided to give it a go in Ireland and so began Irish Seed Savers Association.
In this SeedCLOUD episode, Anita narrates the story of Nikolai Vavilov through Irish Seed Savers connection to the Irish Green Pea. The Irish Green Pea, is a variety of pea native to Ireland, which was repatriated by Irish Seed Savers from the Vavilov Gene Bank in the 1980’s. Dr Nikolai Vavilov (1887-1943), was a Russian botanist and geneticist, and one of the pioneers of 20th century plant breeding. In his search for understanding the origins of agriculture, Vavilov collected plant species from all over the world, and created the first official seed bank in St Petersburg in 1926. The vault survived World War II's Siege of Leningrad, and the legacy of his accomplishments against overwhelming odds is commemorated in the global efforts to conserve crop genetic diversity today.
Join Anita as she recounts what she describes as “a very personal journey” serendipitously inspired by her connections with people and the Irish landscape.