SOMOS SEMILLA: A COMMUNITY SEED LIBRARY IN MEXICO

Sole, Jenn, Emily & Mariana – SOMOS SEMILLA: A COMMUNITY SEED LIBRARY IN MEXICO

Date grant awarded: March 2019

Seeds are the foundation of life, from fruits and vegetables to grain and livestock feed. Without them, we have no food. Furthermore, age-old heirloom varieties are disappearing at an alarming rate, with 90 percent of the crop varieties grown 100 years ago already gone.

Somos Semilla is a community initiative that began with the objective of conserving seeds in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, inspired by the revolutionary movement worldwide. By saving your seeds, you control your seed and therefore your food supply. Also, we have the responsibility to be the caretakers of the seed varieties that thrive in our more extreme conditions. By saving seeds from plants acclimated to our region, we are safeguarding from an uncertain future with climate change. We are literally ‘breeding resilience’.

Our work operates on the foundation that food sovereignty and security are deeply rooted to a community. We use a community-based approach to promote seed conservation. To that end, since 2015, we have distributed seeds and educational material to a diverse group of people, farmers, urban gardeners, kids, etc, along as workshops, seed swaps, exhibitions and seed keepers meetings. We have been promoting the ancestral practice of seed saving through the creation, at the end of 2017, of Grow-Harvest-Share: Seeds for Everyone, an artistic illustrated seed saving manual designed to share these skills to all.

I have always loved seeds and I have always believed that despite being the foundation and beginning of everything, they are often forgotten or belittled. My work for more than 10-years in scientific research centers brought me closer to the problem of biodiversity loss, the problems linked to the future of food, and the loss of identity for people and cultures as their seeds are lost. This was the initial motivation to co-coordinate Somos Semilla with my colleague Jennifer Ungemach and other members of the community in 2015. Nothing has stopped us since then, and in one way or another, we have always been able to continue with our main objective: to distribute open pollinated seeds among community members and disseminate the theoretical and practical bases of seed conservation, so that this movement becomes increasingly larger and firmly established in society, as recognized as a fundamental need for the future of the food and the environment.

The first time we received the TPP grant in 2015, we carried out programming based as a Mobile Seed Library, and we were able to reach rural communities and distribute seeds and information about seed saving and its importance, especially among groups of women who are running small community gardens. This was our most imortant jump to be recognized by our community, and we started to believe in our dream.

With the impact grant in 2018, we ran the Grow-Harvest-Share: Seeds for Everyone program, consisting in distributing and using our illustrated seed saving manual and related educational materials among different groups of the community. This program culminated in the creation of a mural representing Mexican crops on the walls of the local organic market. During this process, we have added dozens of new members to our Library and we recruited new volunteers who collaborate with us. Most importantly we spread seeds and the importance of seed saving in our community, regionally as well as at nationally and internationally through our work on social media.

What we most want in the world is that people recognize the problems of losing seed diversity and genetic erosion in crop plants, in order to take action in time. It is absolutely essential to promote and disseminate existing information on seed conservation, and to generate new resources adapted to current needs. We already have the experience in seeing how people become fascinated when you introduce them into the seed saving world. Through art and beauty, the technical concepts and seed-saving information flows easily and put into practice. The support of TPP would undoubtedly allow us to continue using our educational materials to awaken interest in creating more seed libraries throughout Mexico and the world.

We invited eligible grantees to apply for up to $5,000 in Impact Grants which will allow them to apply their creativity and ingenuity to grow their projects to greater heights.

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