Did you know that Heirloom seeds are older varieties which have adapted to their particular conditions and stayed true to type?
Éidín Griffin has been saving seeds, spreading creative ideas and inspiring gardeners for many years and is really passionate about growing good food. Ancestral seed saving was a necessity on farms in ‘the old days’ and only recently have these seeds become available to the public. Some have been grown on the same farm for over 150 years, developing resistance to specific insects and coping well with weather conditions.
Before moving to KZN, Éidín built her own off grid house in the Free State, using materials from the site – gum poles, earth and stone, generated her own energy and fed herself and many friends. “Actually being far away from a town, without transport certainly focusses one’s attention on being truly self-sufficient!” she laughs. “My family thought I was crazy, and occasionally I thought so too.”
In the past few years, she has created flourishing food gardens in difficult conditions from scratch – in township schools and rural farms – all with style and joy. “Many of our gardens have dozens of varieties of herbs now and some are starting to save their own seeds,” she says with obvious delight. “Growing food is all about taking care of your soil – a good balance of micro-organisms in the soil keeps it alive. It is important to feed it with well-made compost (which is such a lot of fun to make!) and keep everything mulched.”
Éidín uses the word regenerative a lot – as opposed to sustainable. “We can’t just do things the way we have always done them. We need to be more flexible in these times of great change. We have to design systems in a way that will create a more resilient future.” In her view, this entails gathering and sharing stories and ideas about land and human inter-actions, as well as responding swiftly and responsibly to environmental damage.
“Our food, health and happiness is being manipulated by multi-nationals. I would like to encourage fun loving and life orientated people to grow food, save seed and secure their own food supply,” she declares. To inspire others to follow this path, she has produced a gorgeously illustrated guide entitled ‘How to become a Seed Superhero – save seeds, yourself and possibly the planet’ filled with useful tips on how to start on your own collection of treasures. Éidín hosts gardening courses in the Fordoun Village Garden, infused with a sense of optimism, a large dose of fun and lots of practical application. These inspire novices to create their own productive gardens and are a platform for more seasoned growers to share ideas. Her colourful Good Companion Guide and Seasonal Planting Guide are simple tools to help fledgling gardeners dig in.
Éidín is happiest surrounded by kids and dogs, up to her armpits in horse manure or feasting on freshly harvested food. The Midlands community is fortunate to have her exuberance and generous spirit in the neighbourhood. Make the most of this unique abundance and sign up for one of her courses right away!
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