Since 2011, the Member-Grower Evaluation Network (M-GEN) has been instrumental in evaluating the Seed Savers Exchange seed collection of over 25,000 varieties. We grow many collection varieties for evaluation at Heritage Farm, but the M-GEN program serves as an expansion of that work and brings in members as active participants. Through the program, Seed Savers Exchange members grow varieties in their own gardens and report back on varietal vigor, yield, eating quality, and an overall impression of the variety. Members all over North America have evaluated over 68 varieties during the six growing seasons of the program. Now entering its seventh season, the program is expanding and redeploying as the Citizen Science Corps in 2017.
This new program is an opportunity for members of all levels of skill and experience to collaborate with collection staff in new, exciting ways. By participating you can help us 1) gain knowledge of regional suitability of garden crops, 2) create descriptions for varieties that have not been evaluated at Heritage Farm, and 3) produce seeds that we will preserve and share. Science corps contributors can participate in three different programs:
1) ADAPT: Our goal is to learn how varieties in the Seed Savers Exchange collection grow in different regions around North America. The varieties chosen for ADAPT have been evaluated at Heritage Farm, so detailed evaluation is not necessary. This program is perfect for the novice gardener.
2) SHARE: We are capable of growing a limited number of varieties for evaluation each year at Heritage Farm. Through SHARE, you can help us expedite the evaluation of varieties not yet assessed. Participants in this program will evaluate and describe varieties in the Seed Savers Exchange collection. The evaluation process for SHARE is more in-depth than that for ADAPT. This program is aimed at experienced gardeners.
3) RENEW: Many varieties in our collection do not grow well in our climate so obtaining seed can be difficult. Other varieties in our collection need extra attention to obtain pure seed stocks. By joining the RENEW program, you can help us regenerate seed that we share with members. Participants should have an understanding of seed saving, but we will provide a detailed conservation plan.
Whether by sharing seeds in the Exchange, donating seeds to our collection, or giving financial gifts, our members have always been vital to the mission of Seed Savers Exchange. Programs like M-GEN, and now, the Citizen Science Corps, open up additional opportunities for members to join us in our work. Through our collaborative efforts, we can better understand this incredible collection of seeds that has been entrusted to the Seed Savers Exchange community so that it may be adequately preserved for the future.
Become a Citizen Science Corps participant:
Already a Seed Savers Exchange member? Contact us today! To get started with ADAPT or SHARE, email firstname.lastname@example.org and to get started with the RENEW program, email email@example.com
Not a Seed Savers Exchange member? Join today!