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The Cleveland Seed Bank was initiated as a response to the unprecedented loss of our planet’s biological diversity and alarming increase in multinational, corporate agriculture. In today’s world, preserving local, heirloom seed varieties is vitally important for the planet’s ecological resilience and adaptability as we are confronted with climate change, corporate seed production and a general loss of farming knowledge. Through diligent seed stewardship, we can begin to safeguard and restore the biological diversity that is vital for sustainable agriculture in the United States and around the world.

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, genetically diverse crop resources are disappearing at the rate of one to two percent each year. Since the beginning of the last century, about 75 percent of the diversity of agricultural crops is estimated to have been lost. This means we now have access to 75 percent fewer food options and we are dependent on those limited options in far greater quantities, thereby putting the global food supply at risk should a monocrop become compromised due to climate change or disease (as was the case of the Irish Potato Famine).

Staple foods, such as potato, corn and rice represent foods that farmers traditionally grew in small crop rotations with dozens or hundreds of varieties. However, as a quick trip to the grocery store can demonstrate, industrialized agriculture has decreased plant varieties at an alarming rate.

When we save seeds, we create new and meaningful relationships between the farmer, the seed and our fellow neighbors. Seed saving reconnects growers with the age-old tradition of preserving the best traits of the best crops, thereby cultivating food abundance, and overall health and wellness throughout our communities—from the soil to the plate.

Across the United States and around the globe, people are coming together to reclaim the seed and build stronger local food systems. Please join us in preserving the planet’s amazing seed biodiversity for the health and well being of future generations.