The term “seed savers” refers to those who seek out and preserve old varieties of seeds no longer cultivated, old local varieties at risk of genetic erosion. Throughout the world, and also in Italy, many NGOs have developed networks of “seed savers” to facilitate and spread the exchange of seed varieties which need to be preserved.
The leader of these organizations, with the the highest overall membership, is Seed Savers Exchange! Seed Savers Exchange was founded in October 1975 by Diane Whealy and Kent Whealy as the result of a rather significant incident. Diane’s grandfather gave her the seeds of two plants which their parents had brought from Bavaria when they emigrated to Iowa in 1870, unwittingly giving the impetus to what is now one of the largest collections of heirloom and free-pollination varieties in the United States!
Seed Savers Exchange is an organization supported by gardeners and plant collectors determined to collect, preserve and share the seeds of plants heirloom and traditional seeds (seeds of garden plants that have been passed down within families), but also to educate the close ones on the importance of conservation. Seed Savers Exchange knows that the future of our planet depends on a supply of foods genetically different and offers an alternative model to the mainstream agriculture through their work, promoting participatory conservation among its members and maintaining thousands of varieties of different plant types, in one of the largest seed banks of its kind.
Seed Savers Exchange also regenerates these seeds in isolation gardens and ensures that they are always kept in top condition, store and document valuable cultural information on varieties and their histories, and all varieties of seeds are stored in places for back-up: Seed Bank at the USDA in Fort Collins and at the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway. The organization provides its members with a service called Seed Savers Exchange Yearbook, through which thousands of seed varieties are exchanged between members. Through these means, the organization will ensure that the seeds and plants continue to circulate through the hands of gardeners and farmers who share this policy, thus ensuring that they remain available to all.
The organization is certified by the Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship of Iowa, and agrees to sell plants and seeds absolutely not genetically modified!
The collection of Seed Savers Exchange, created to honor the tradition of conservation and sharing, is a living heritage that can be passed down from generation to generation. Those seeds are now widely used by seed companies, by small farmers who supply the local and regional markets, by cooks and home gardeners. For those who are intrigued with all this, on the official website you can fill out a request and receive a catalog with their inventory!