The Garden Organic Heritage Seed Library (HSL) is looking for seed guardians to help it to maintain a sufficient amount of stock seed varieties as well as safeguarding rare varieties.

Orphan seeds are those that have reached low levels in stock and need care to increase their numbers.

Seed guardians provide invaluable support to the work of the seed library. Of the 40,000 plus packets of seed distributed to members each year, around 50% are produced by seed guardians. There are currently around 180 active volunteer seed guardians working to produce seed for the HSL.

The seeds that Guardians return are processed and placed in cold storage, ready to be included in the seed catalogue. This catalogue is sent out to HSL members who request their favourite varieties. These are then grown by other members and preserved for future generations to enjoy too.

The HSL aims to conserve vegetable varieties that are not widely available. It is not a gene bank and the whole collection, once there is enough seed, becomes available for members to grow and enjoy. The collection consists of mainly European varieties, including rare landrace varieties, which are adapted to specific growing conditions, heirloom varieties that have been saved over many generations and varieties that have been dropped from popular seed catalogues over the past decade.

The seed library currently holds approximately 800 accessions of open-pollinated1 varieties. These varieties have been donated by HSL members or other members of the public, sourced through past HSL projects such as The Seed Search or passed on by seed companies who are no longer maintaining them. Each year, approximately 150 varieties within the collection are chosen for inclusion in the HSL seed catalogue.