See The Possible: Cleveland Seed Bank on WKYC

Jeff Reidel, WKYC July 28, 2014

CLEVELAND — It’s one of the things that connects us all: food. One local couple is seeing the possible by creating a way people can grow their own. And all you need is a library card.

At the Lorain Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, people are learning about seeds. It’s part of Cleveland Seed Library where patrons can check out a variety of seeds and grow their own food.

“We were able to set up five seed sharing stations at five different libraries in the Cleveland area,” said Marilyn McHugh, co-founder of the Cleveland Seed Bank. “It has been really amazing; we’ve gotten a wonderful response.”

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Cleveland Public Libraries Join Seed-Saving Effort

in Edible Cleveland Spring 2014

by Brad Masi

From market farming to urban homesteading, local foods are playing an increasingly important role in Cleveland. A new project promises to increase the resilience of Cleveland’s urban local food system by improving access to heirloom and open-pollinated seeds. The Cleveland Seed Bank, an initiative of the Hummingbird Project, an international permaculture organization, is working to inspire people to protect seed integrity and promote our shared seed heritage.

Typically, gardeners and farmers use seeds that are shipped in from outside of Northeast Ohio. Because most of these seeds are hybridized or, increasingly, genetically modified, seeds generated from these plants will not reproduce. By contrast, heirloom plants generate seeds that can be saved for future years and selected for traits that best match local growing conditions.

Marilyn McHugh and Chris Kennedy, co-founders of the project, have been teaching permaculture and soil biology at the Navdanya Farm, located in northern India and operated by organic food activist, researcher, and author Vandana Shiva. Inspired by the seed banks established by Shiva across India to protect food sovereignty for Indian farmers, Marilyn and Chris received support from the Cleveland Colectivo and the California-based Pollination Project to establish a similar seed bank project in Cleveland.

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An Open Source Community Model to Save Seeds –a WordPress Seedbank Plugin

Recently, the seed saving movement has regained popularity as part of the growing backlash against the corporatization of the food supply and genetically engineered crops, also known as GMOs. Seed banks, libraries and swaps are springing up across the globe as individuals and communities reclaim access to local, open pollinated sources of seed. For many, the tools related to seed saving have not changed since the time people began sorting, sifting and storing seeds for next year’s bounty. However, one group has a new “weapon of mass creation” to offer the global seed sovereignty movement….


New software for the Cleveland Seed Bank, a seed saving initiative, has been released to the public as an open source website plugin that can turn any WordPress site into a community seed bank. The software, called WP-Seedbank, was conceived by Marilyn McHugh, Executive Director and Co-Founder of The Hummingbird Project (THP) and developed in collaboration with Cleveland GiveCamp.

The Hummingbird Project, a non-profit that works to improve stewardship of the Earth using sustainable principles, was selected as one of 18 organizations to participate in this year’s Cleveland GiveCamp in July. Over the course of the weekend, Cleveland GiveCamp connected more than 200 technology professionals with non-profit groups, offering an opportunity to solve their most pressing technical needs.

Working around the clock on the shores of Lake Erie, a team of eight individuals collaborated with THP to design and produce a seed exchange tool for the new Cleveland Seed Bank website. What was designed to solve a problem for one non-profit may just become the solution for the hundreds of community seed banks and seed libraries sprouting up around the globe.

“Taking our cues from Mother Nature, we wrote a customizable plugin and are choosing to distribute the source code freely so everyone on Earth can benefit and can help it grow,” said Meitar Moscovitz, a programmer on the development team.

“Our original idea was to build resiliency and community in our hometown and we are still dedicated to accomplishing that mission, but this WordPress plugin makes it possible for anyone who shares those values to also do the same. With a few clicks you will have first-hand access to all the same capabilities that we do.” said McHugh.

Making this plugin open source — free and available to everyone — THP hopes to provide a tool for the community of seed sharing groups, but also hopes this same community will further develop and improve the software.

“The GiveCamp weekend is over and the programmers have all gone back to their day jobs” adds THP co-founder, Chris Kennedy. “By downloading and spreading the news about this open source program, we expect to find other ecologically minded techies whose expertise will help evolve the original application so that it is even more effective.”

Currently the software allows users to create a profile, upload seeds individually or from a spreadsheet to share, search the available seeds using several categories, make seed requests and provides the opportunity to get, swap or sell seed varieties. Much like Craigslist, the program provides a platform for seed exchanges and relies on users to sort out the terms and logistic of the swap.

The WP-Seedbank plugin can be downloaded here.

An open forum to suggest improvements or provide bug reports to programmers is hosted on github. Please read this before you post to github.

THP would like to thank the team who worked so hard on this plugin and the Cleveland Seed Bank website; led by cyberbusking hacktivist Meitar Moscovitz, along with Kip Price, Alex Redinger, Jamie Kosempa, Adam Dutko, Brianna Spayd, Lauren Berlekamp, project coordinator Michelle Grady White and all the generous folks at Cleveland GiveCamp.


The Cleveland Seed Bank is an initiative of The Hummingbird Project, a global non-profit based in Cleveland, Ohio, dedicated to building regenerative ecological systems and empowering individuals in areas with limited resources. The Cleveland Seed Bank works to inspire community members to join the worldwide food movement to protect seed integrity and promote our shared seed heritage.

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