Sayada Sultana

Seed Guardian, Selby Estate Gardening Club

Sayada Sultana. Photo: Sara Heitlinger
Sayada Sultana. Photo: Sara Heitlinger

This is my third year I’m gardening. In these three years I’ve learnt a lot. In the first year I didn’t know anything about gardening. Actually this is my first time saving seed. Before, every year I bought seeds. My garden is doing well.

My Story

Sayada Sultana. Photo: Sara Heitlinger


Sayada Sultana, Seed Guardian, Selby Street Gardening Club

This is my third year I’m gardening. In these three years I’ve learnt a lot. In the first year I didn’t know anything about gardening. Actually this is my first time saving seed. Before I didn’t, every year I bought seeds. My garden is doing well.

Why I grow my own food
It’s fun and it looks nice to see green things. When I came here, I saw lots of people gardening. So I showed my interest to them, and they said “OK you can do it too.” I live in a flat, but they gave me a plot two buildings after my building. So there I do my gardening. It’s nice to see plants growing, green things coming up, and food coming up. And my children really enjoy it too.

Why I save seeds
Because then we know and understand where this seed came from. Sometimes if we buy seeds from a shop or market, we don’t know if the seed is ok, if it works or not. Sometimes we buy seed from the market that is not as good as we think. It’s like, we own a little plant, little life, so we put it in the next year. That’s really nice. And it saves money as well, because buying seed is a lot of money.

Connection between growing and my heritage
My Mum grew plants every year when I was little. She grew different types of vegetables and fruits. And now I have the opportunity I want to try and grow the plants that I used to in Bangladesh, in my country of origin. So I want to try and grow tomatoes. And kodu. Because in this cold country, these are difficult things. I didn’t manage to grow any kodu fruit, but I can still eat the leaves. I’m trying lots of our cultural plants.

Hear from Sayada

How I feel when I’m working in the garden
It’s a really good feeling. When I go to the garden, I feel I need to spend more time here. It’s like my children. I look after my children like that. When I’m looking after my plants, I feel like I’m looking after my children. And it feels really good to see the seed growing up and it gets bigger, and then again it’s dry. It’s really nice to see.

Achocha and Potol

Achocha / potol. Photo: Fatema Khanom


Achocha (sometimes called potol) was a originally grown by the Incas in South America. It is a member of the Curcubit family of plants, that includes squash and cucumbers. In a good year, this plant...

Where the seeds came from
Lutfun from the farm gave me the seeds and so I said, “OK, lets try it.” She said it’s potol, but when I saw the seed I thought, “It’s not potol, it’s something else. Let’s see what happens.” When I saw the fruit growing, I thought, “Oh my god what is it, how can I eat this one?” I was scared about what the taste would be like. I didn’t have any idea what it is. The smell is a bit strong. I thought, “Let’s be brave and try it. What will happen?” One day I cooked it and it was really good.

How to grow
Growing it is easy, and it grows fast. It takes loads of space. It goes everywhere in my garden.

Sayada on Achocha

I cut it into long pieces, and then put onion and garlic and a little bit of oil. After it turns brown I add the achocha. It is cooked in 5 minutes. It’s really tasty. The strong smell disappears when it’s cooked.

How to save seed
I left the achocha to dry in the garden, then I picked them and removed the seed from the fruit, and put the seed in paper.

Runner Beans

Lisa's runner beans. Photo: Lisa Lueaffat


Runner beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They need a support to climb up and well-watered soil. Sow indoors late April to May, outdoors May to June. Provide a support for the...

How to grow
First of all plant runner beans inside. Sow them at the end of May. Runner beans grow really fast. So if you grow them too early, they will be very big, but you can’t put them outside because it’s too cold. So it’s better to sow them later. Runner beans like to climb, so they need climbing space. If you put a trellis in they can climb. If they can climb then they will produce more beans. If they can’t, then the crop doesn’t grow properly.

Sayada on Runner Beans

When the bean is young you can eat it the whole pod. We cook it with the fish or with chicken. When the bean is older, you can cook the seeds. Soak the bean seeds for two hours, then wash off the outside skin, the black skin. Then cook the bean seed with fish. Or you can eat it with chapati bread or rice.