Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy had a honeymoon unlike most. They set out to travel around the world for a year with plans to stop in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. What was supposed to be a week in Kenya turned into six weeks when they saw how devastated the communities were by industrialized, chemical agriculture and felt compelled to help. Then, they headed to India for what was supposed to be a short stint but turned into several months.
When McHugh and Kennedy returned from their honeymoon, they were forever changed. Back home in Cleveland, Marilyn and Chris continued to think about India’s lack of access to quality open-pollinated seeds and noticed that a similar system was developing here in the United States. The urban farm movement was growing, but plants were rarely grown from locally sourced seeds and few, if any, farmers were saving their seeds from year to year.
In 2010, they started The Hummingbird Project, a global non-profit based in Cleveland that is dedicated to building regenerative ecological systems and empowering individuals in resource poor locales. The Cleveland Seed Bank, an initiative of the Hummingbird Project, was officially founded in 2013, but the ‘seed’ of the initiative was planted years prior to launch.