A Movement Towards Community Seed

We are united by our need to eat. Regional differences in climate and local distinctions in culture create amazingly diverse food systems. The richness and complexity of a given traditional food way makes life worth living by furnishing our stories, celebrations, basic nourishment and essential human values.

All food starts with a seed. Everyone depends on seeds to provide the calories essential to daily function: the clothes that keep us warm; forage for animals we consume; paper for writing and learning, and so much more.

Communities have grown to rely on food imported from beyond their borders - such a model of distribution has proven ineffective in offering basic sustenance to many, especially those without reliable access to grocery stores. To ensure communities can feed themselves in every incarnation, growing one's own garden and saving seed must become a fundamental practice. Whether a food pantry, community garden, or public library, myriad ways exist for seeds and seed saving knowledge to be shared.

How can you build seed saving into your regional food system?

  • Incorporate seed saving into your educational programs by hosting workshops.
  • Organize a seed swap for members of your community to share seeds for their gardens.
  • Start a seed library where gardeners are encouraged to take home seeds to grow under the condition that they bring new, healthy seeds back at the end of the season.

The Community Seed Resource Program

In collaboration with Seed Matters, we are offering educational tool kits and mentorship for community groups who want to fold seed saving into their ongoing work.

In order to qualify, applicants must be working collaboratively in a group and be willing to work in an outreach capacity on behalf of seed saving.

Qualifying applicants receive: 

  • a community seed toolkit, including seeds, educational resources, and seed saving supplies
  • access to SSE's national seed exchange
  • mentorship in seed saving and community organizing around seeds

Active CSRP Groups

There are currently 65 Community Seed Resource Program groups active from every corner of the United States.  Take a look at some examples of groups we are working with:

Sieda Seeds of Hope - Centerville, IA

Sieda Seeds of Hope is a community garden and nutrition program through Sieda Community Action Agency, serving seven counties in southeast Iowa. They have raised beds and in-ground community gardens in their constituent neighborhoods that primarily service low-income and elderly housing projects, senior congregate meals sites and nursing homes.

Blue Island Park District Community Garden - Blue Island, IL

Blue Island Park District Community Garden is a community garden maintained by the Blue Island Parks District and comprised of gardeners from the community: learning how to save seed, hosting seed swaps, and collaborating with other regional organizations.

200 people came to our first seed exchange. There are people now saving seed who haven’t saved seed before, empowered by their new knowledge. The [local] library was there, and they passed out information [about their new seed library]. All of the seeds we had leftover from the exchange were sorted and brought to the seed library. They’re the kinds of seeds a beginning seed saver can save in their garden with success, and the remainder will get planted in our community garden.
— Anna Stange, coordinator

Mountain View Library - Mountain View, CA

Mountain View Library houses a vibrant seed repository, distributing seeds saved by community members (both individuals and organizations, such as local elementary schools); they also do seed saving programming.  Local Seed Savers Exchange members and seed saving organizations host workshops that reinforce the connection between local gardeners and a network of seed savers in their region.

The Next Step - Contact Us

Losing access to seeds and to the skills associated with saving and sharing seeds results in a massive disconnect from the food system. Rebuilding that connection takes dedication, patience, and knowledge.

Apply to the Community Seed Resource Program today and be a part of the nation-wide effort to create a local seed movement in your neighborhood or region!

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.