Nat Mady, Seed Guardian, Cordwainers Garden, Hackney
I’m a part of Cordwainers Garden. This year we’ve dedicated a plot to seed-saving for this project.
Why I grow my own food
I grow my own vegetables because I really enjoy growing things, and being able to grow things that I know are healthy and nutritious. I like doing it with other people, as part of a community garden. And it’s always nice, each year, to try something different and experiment. And I like being outside in the fresh air.
Why I save seed
I save seeds for a few different reasons. For political reasons around seed sovereignty. There’s lots of worrying regulations at a global level around seeds. Also because I’ve learnt that the seeds that you save yourself from your local area and climate and conditions are always, each year, more adapted to the environment. And it means you have free seeds. We always get a lot of seeds so we can give them away to other people. And also it’s just really fun! I’m quite fascinated by seeds, so being able to save them and collect them is something I really enjoy doing.
Food sovereignty is linked with having control over our food and the plants and the crops that we grow. Over the years lots of seed varieties and heirloom seeds have been lost in favour of commercially grown crops. So for me seed sovereignty is about taking the control back and being able to collect our own seeds and being able to carry on doing practices that farmers have been doing for a long time all over the world.
Connection between growing and my heritage
My parents would grow vegetables and always had a vegetable patch. My Dad is from Egypt, so there were certain things that he grows like broad beans (or fava beans). I really vividly remember (and also there’s a photo of me) podding peas as a child. Because they always saved their bean seeds, when I did start growing crops on my own that just came naturally to me because it was what I’d seen and what I’d grown up with.
Hear from Nat
How I feel when I’m working in the garden
I usually feel quite relaxed. Although we’re still in quite an urban area, we’re quite hidden. People can see us, but you sort of feel like you’re a little bit tucked away and a bit hidden, almost like no one can really find you. It’s quite nice just to have a real break and just be away from technology or from things. And it’s really nice just having the sounds of the garden. It’s very different to any other kind of day-in, day-out city environment. Mostly I feel quite calm and relaxed and it’s always having a bit of a time out when you’re here, even if you’re working quite hard.