Community Seed Systems

Community Seed System (CSS) is a collective term for the various types of internationally found organisations as listed on this page. Their common aim is for the sustainable use of seeds of diversity by means of living conservation. On a local basis this means identifying and maintaining the crops which are proven to be well suited to an area, whether by tradition, or adaptation and use by present generations. Seeds and crops are documented and reproduced in-situ on a regular basis which allows for their continued adaptation to their environment. A set amount of seeds are stored from each crop to continue supply for future generations and as a resilient measure against disaster – be it natural or imposed. Community networks reinforce food security and may be significantly enhanced by additional collaboration.

The UNFAO Second Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (PGRFA), details the need to build Sustainable Institutional and Human Capacities as one integrated component of 18 Priority Activities for the sound stewardship of the world’s heritage of plant genetic resources. Paragragh 214 of the plan states ‘PGRFA activities are carried out by public entities, private companies, non- governmental organizations, botanic gardens, farmers, indigenous and local communities, and individuals from the agriculture, environment, research and development sectors. The integration of such different PGRFA actors in the framework of a unified and coherent national programme provides the opportunity to add value to their diverse efforts so that the whole becomes bigger than the sum of its parts.’

The genetic diversity of the plants that we grow and eat and their “wild relatives” could be lost forever, threatening future food security, unless special efforts are stepped up to not only conserve but also utilize them – Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division. Here lies the vital link which CSS plays in the future of seed. Genebanks can store great volume and variety for the future, and CSS collaborate with such institutions by contributing stock, but it is through the regular use of plants that culture is maintained and losses prevented. Reliance upon inputs of seed and associated growth mediums (herbicides, pesticides, fertilisers), creates both a dependence and a disconnect from established traditions and varieties which may become permanent losses. NGOs have recognised this and promoted the establishment of CSS to develop sustained supply and reinstate a skill base which is otherwise lost within a single generation.

Our links page details just some of the Community Seed Systems to be found around the world. Just like their seeds they are living entities in varying states of establishment. Garden Organic in the UK is very well regarded for its organic research and heritage seed library and is presently building a CSS network. SEED, in Luxembourg has very quickly established during two years of voluntary work by building direct formal collaboration with institutes and recognising the essential roles of researchers, gardeners and consumers. And Arche Noah has revitalised Austrian seed heritage and supply with over 6000 seed accessions and more than 11,000 members.

Find more information in a detailed CSS report of international scope here: Community Seed Banks in Nepal

Titles include

COMMUNITY SEED BANK

COMMUNITY SEED EXCHANGE

COMMUNITY SEED EXCHANGE

COMMUNITY SEED LIBRARY

COMMUNITY SEED RESERVE

COMMUNITY SEED RESOURCE

COMMUNITY GENE BANK

COMMUNITY SEED HOUSE

FARMER SEED NETWORK

SEED EXCHANGE NETWORK

SEED SAVER ASSOCIATION

SEED SAVER GROUP

SEED SAVER NETWORK

SEED WEALTH CENTRE

VILLAGE SEED BANK