What is 'The Living Seed Project' and how did it start?
The Living Seed Project began in 2013 in response to a need for keeping our heritage seed varieties alive. The Lost Seed customers would send us seed which they have had passed down through generations for us to grow out & redistribute, however with thousands of different varieties, the challenge became too much for us. Rather than let these varieties fade out, we started 'The Living Seed Project'.
Many seed banks are simply places where seed is 'locked away' in vaults for future use if needed. However, seeds are living and will slowly expire. The Living Seed Project is a means where rather than seed being stored away for years it is regularly being grown out and replaced by fresh seed from growers who are able to save the seed and yet obtain the benefit of the harvest as well.
How does it work?
The Living Seed Project is similar to a regular bank where you are able to make 'deposits' and 'withdrawals' with the 'currency' simply being seed packets.
eg. If you grow out 'Tomato - White Oxheart' and end up with 22 packets, these are posted with a deposit slip to The Living Seed Project upon which they are made available in the 'Seed List (offerings)' on our website. Your account is then also credited with 20 Seed Packet Credits. You can check your account at any time to see how many Seed Packet Credits you have. You are then able to choose from the 'Seed List (offerings)' as many different varieties as you like (up to 20 packets of course in this example).
Note: When you join and become a member, you are granted unlimited access to the 'Seed List (offerings)'. This is basically a list of seeds grown & made available by other members.
How much does each seed packet cost in 'The Living Seed Project'?
There is no cost on seed packets - remember it is only an exchange for packets you put in. ie. If you deposit five seed packets into the bank, you can then withdraw any five packets out (exchange only - no cost). The only amount that you pay is the postage, packaging & handling fee.
How much does it cost to become a member and what do I receive?
There is an annual membership fee of $60 which is renewable at the end of each year - we will email you to let you know when your membership is due for renewal. This amount decreases as the year progresses ie. If you join from January-April, you pay $60 & receive a credit of 3 seed packets; if you join in September-December you only pay $20 and receive credit for 1 seed packet. Membership includes:
- unlimited access to the 'Seed List (offerings)'
- up to three seed packets (credited to your account & depending on which month of the year you join)
Can anyone become a member of The Living Seed Project?
To become a member of The Living Seed Project, all you need to do is have a passion for keeping our vegetable, flower etc. heritage alive. While basic seed saving skills are appreciated, we would like everyone to experience the joy of saving and sharing seed so basically membership is open to anyone with a passion. That being said, it is recommended that if you are new to seed saving that you purchase a copy of 'The Seed Savers Handbook' by Michel & Jude Fanton (available on this website - see 'Books - Gardening').
How do I become a member of The Living Seed Project?
Simply click on 'The Living Seed Project (Australia)', then click on 'Membership Form' and select 'Membership Application Form (Annual Membership)' - or click here. Then simply follow the instructions.
What happens at the end of the year when membership is due to expire?
At the end of December each year, we email all members to notify them that their membership is about to expire. You then have the option to renew your membership for another year.
SEED LIST (Offerings)
Can I choose as many varieties as I like?
Yes, you can choose any number of packets from any number of varieties. It is hoped that the packets you select are those which you would like to maintain & keep 'alive' by saving their seed. Many of the seed varieties offered in the Seed List (Offerings) are rare and hard to find. The varieties which we need seed savers for will be noted. If we have only a few packets of a rare variety, we will make a note in the description that seed savers are required.
Do I have to grow the seed myself?
It is important to note that we only accept seed which has been grown by the member or their family & friends. We DO NOT accept seed which has been purchased from other seed companies.
How do I know that the seed offered by another member is true-to-type, viable & of good quality?
As we have not grown or packaged the seed ourselves, we have no control over the purity or quality of the seed enclosed in each packet. This we leave up to the growers who decide to grow this variety. We simply ask that once you have grown out any of the varieties, that you return to our website & submit a 'Product Review'. This can include such information as the quality, flavour & experience you have had with that particular variety. It may also include information such as germination, purity etc.
eg. Find that variety on our page & then click on 'Write a Review'. Enter as much information as you are able, such as:
'A very impressive tomato with high yields. The 'white' colour is really just a very pale almost translucent yellow colour which only lasts a short time. The colour then deepens into a stronger yellow. Good germination. Would definitely grow again'.
We regularly check all reviews. If a particular variety / grower is getting reviews concerning poor germination, impure or contaminated seed etc. we will contact the grower & depending on the reviews, remove that particular seed from our offerings. If this happens regularly, we will work with the grower to improve their seed saving protocols, or as a last resort terminate their membership.
Can I add my own varieties?
Yes. You don't have to only grow out the varieties on offer in the seed bank. If you have a different variety of seed that you have grown and saved, perhaps passed down through your family for generations, or obtained from a friend or elsewhere, please do submit it. We are trying to not only maintain current varieties, but also revive the old and lost varieties from the pre-industrial era, as well as rare seeds which may be hard to find.
Do you accept anything else besides seeds as a deposit?
Yes. We do accept garlic bulbs, tubers etc. however as soon as they show sign of deterioration, we will need to delete them from on offer (this would also mean that credit would be deducted from your account.
How do I know how many seeds to put in each packet?
Go to 'The Living Seed Project (Australia)' and click on 'Seed Quantities' - or click here.
What if something goes wrong?
If you have a crop failure (due to whatever reason) don't panic; we are not the 'Seed Saving Police'. We don't expect you to return seed for every variety that you grow out. Every seed that you save all counts, but we are also about enjoying the harvest as well & the produce that you eat from these rare, unusual & hard-to-come-by seed varieties.
ABOUT MY CREDIT
How do I check how much credit I have?
Simply go to 'The Living Seed Project (Australia)' on our website www.thelostseed.com.au and click on 'Credit Check' - or click here.
What affects how much credit I have?
When you make a deposit, your credit goes up by the number of seeds you send in as a deposit. When you make a withdrawal, your credit is deducted by the number of seed packets you withdraw. In our effort to maintain a pure seed bank of high quality, your credit may also be reduced if the seeds you send in prove to be either cross-pollinated, not true-to-type, low germination etc. In addition, if you send in bulbs or tubers which have not sold & are beginning to deteriorate / sprout your credit will be deducted. Any items which are not 'saleable' will be destroyed. Please note, we do not post these items back to the grower.
MAKING A DEPOSIT
You've grown the vegetable, harvested the seed, so what do you do next?
Simply go to 'The Living Seed Project (Australia)' on our website www.thelostseed.com.au and click on 'Make a Deposit' or click here - then follow the steps listed.
Is there a limit to the amount of packets you can deposit?
Yes, there is a limit of 30 packets for each variety of seed deposited. This is necessary to prevent us getting a glut of any one seed which will eventually become unviable.
What happens if I have saved a large amount of seed (too many to send to 'The Living Seed Network')?
We are happy to purchase any excess seed from you at wholesale rates for sale at 'The Lost Seed' (separate to 'The Living Seed Network'). Simply click here to offer bulk seed for sale.
Please note: All seed deposited into The Living Seed Network must be clean (ie. free of other seeds, dirt, plant material etc), viable (should have a germination rate of over 85% at time of deposit, non-hybrid (must not have crossed with other varieties during the growing process - you will have put into practice correct spacing protocols to ensure that cross-pollination does not occur).
MAKING A WITHDRAWAL
You've posted the seed that you've saved to us so what do you do next?
Step One: Check how many packets you are able to order by going to 'The Living Seed Project (Australia)' and clicking on 'Credit Check' - or click here.
Step Two: Click on 'Seed List (Offerings)' then choose which seed packets you would like to order. These will then be placed into your shopping cart (cost for each packet being $0.00). Then proceed through 'Checkout' as per a regular order with the only charge being the postage & handling fee.
QUESTIONS / SUGGESTIONS?
If you have any questions, or suggestions about how we may improve 'The Living Seed Project (Australia)', please do not hesitate to contact us via website or email: firstname.lastname@example.org