Collecting Seed Stories: How to record seed histories

Every Seed Has a Story

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SSE gathers, documents, and shares the stewardship histories, origins, and community ties associated with the varieties in our collection.  We are committed to the preservation and distribution of heirloom varieties with a deep and enduring connection to the gardening and farming heritage of the United States.

We only have stories for about 20% of the almost 20,000 varieties in our collection. We are looking for the backstory on the rest of the collection, as well as opportunities to add important heirlooms that we have so-far missed to the collection.

There are many more amazing seed stories out there than we can ever collect on our own. An easy way to protect these stories is to record them.

The StoryCorps App  

That’s why we need your help to record and preserve heirloom seed stories using a tool many of you use every day: your smart phones. SSE is utilizing the FREE app to collect your seed stories

The app helps users create private or publicly available audio interviews by planning interview questions, recording audio, uploading images, tagging interviews, and archiving interviews in an easy to use interface.

You can download the StoryCorps app from the App Store (Apple) or the Google Play Store (Android) and easily create an account. The page includes instructions and a tutorial for first time users. Once you are comfortable using the app, you can start archiving seed stories.

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Plan the Interview

A little bit of planning can greatly increase the quality of your interview. In general, a good Seed Story will include a description of the variety, a little bit about the interviewee, information about the interviewee’s relationship with the variety, and information about the broader history of the variety. Interesting lines of inquiry include those that help listeners understand how the variety has been shared, where it came from, who else has stewarded the variety, and why the variety is important to the interviewee.

Sometimes unexpected things come up, so stay flexible and see where the interview leads. Try to let the interviewee do most of the talking.

Archive the interview

You can choose to make your interview public or keep it private, but either way we want you to share it with SSE. If you want to share your interview with the world, upload it onto the archive. Tag the interview with #SeedStories and #SeedSaversExchange so that we can find it. Additional relevant tags may include the city and state where the interview was conducted, as well as other tags such as #Heirloom or #Heritage, #familyhistory, #gardening, and #seeds.

To share a copy of the interview with Seed Savers Exchange, follow the instructions for downloading a published interview from and email the file to for safe keeping and further sharing.

Seed Savers Exchange is a non-profit organization located in Decorah, Iowa, with a mission to conserve and promote America's culturally diverse but endangered garden and food crop heritage for future generations by collecting, growing, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants.