Save your seeds and help stop world hunger

Filed in Blog by on January 13, 2011 16 Comments
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save your seeds and make a difference to others

save your seeds and make a difference to others

Our guest post today is from Sandie Roach.

Sandie is a waste hating, student of life, being home educated by her kids in Perth Western Australia.

A year ago we shared a guest post from Safia Soliman about her seed savers project. The article moved Sandie so much that she has been saving and sending seeds ever since!

Seed saving

The idea is that instead of throwing away or composting seeds from the every day fruits and vegetables you eat; they are sent to other countries to be grown into food.

I have to admit, at first I was sceptical. Could seeds from our food thrive in other countries and help improve food security and reduce hunger in other parts of the world? It would seem they can.

World hunger

Lettuce, beetroot, carrots, onions, melons, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, papayas and eggplants are examples of many of the foods which can be successfully grown despite severe water shortages.

Anyway, enough from me – over to Sandie!

Youth Container Gardening Project

Patrick Harry has set up a Youth Container Gardening Project in Malawi and would love to receive seeds saved from the fruit and vegetables you grow or purchase.

All you have to do before mailing your seeds is three simple steps:

  • Rinse your saved seeds with water
  • Leave them to dry (not on a piece of paper because this sticks!)
  • Sort the seeds by species and put in a labelled envelope

Post your seeds

Once your seeds are sorted and ready to be sent, please post to:

Patrick Harry

C/o Martha Harry

Theatre for Change

British Council

P. O BOX 30222

Lilongwe 3


It doesn’t matter how small your contribution is, all seeds are appreciated.

Seeds for food

More information about this wonderful project can be found at Professor Willem Van Cotthem’s Seeds for Food site.

According to the site for $61 in seeds, $1.3 million worth of vegetables can be grown. Isn’t that a fantastic and heart warming example of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure?

Keep up to date with Seeds for Food on their facebook page.

Sustainable development

Patrick reminds us that it is a matter of survival for these people to have healthy and nutritious food. Growing their own crops with your seeds will enable them to survive the hottest season of the year when food is in short supply.

Seeds for Food believes this project can e a world changing initiative where citizens of the developed world take steps towards self-reliance and sustainable development in the third world.

I hope you will join me in sending seeds. How sad that these precious sparks of life should end up in our bins, when for the price of a stamp and a little tender love and care, they could develop into life sustaining nutrition.

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (16)

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  1. Hazel says:

    Sounds like a great idea, but I thought much of our shop-bought food was from F1 hybrids and therefore less likely to germinate? It’ll be interesting to read more about the project; I’ll try to have a look this evening.

  2. pamela says:

    What a great idea, I love it. I’m going to start with the last step and address a few envelopes first. Then pin them to my kitchen notice board. They’ll act as both a reminder AND an anti-procrastination (never getting around to actually sending anything because I’m too busy to find an envelope etc.) aid-memoire;)

  3. This is really interesting. And even those who save seeds from their own homegrown (hopefully heirloom) produce still have way more seeds than they know what to do with. I’ve saved seeds from bell peppers and they sprout every time…haven’t tried any other seed varieties though.

  4. Poppy says:

    My Step-mother grew some very good pepper plants from comercially grown veg that they had used. I was saving seeds to have a go myself this year, but I’ll pack them up and send them off here instead, along with a load of squash seeds that I’d also been hanging on to.

  5. Sandie Roach says:

    @ Hazel – This is a common question. Recently someone asked the same thing on the ‘Seeds for Food’ facebook page – ‘Seeds from hybrids usually do not reproduce that good fruit we bought? Many of the purchased produce will be hybrids. Should we only save home grown needs that we know aren’t hybrids.’

    Professor Willem van Cotthem answered as follows:

    ‘Thanks for commenting, Sharon. One of the things hungry or malnourished people in developing countries are not interested in, is the supreme quality of certain varieties of fruits or vegetables. We can make them happy just by offering them the seeds they can’t afford. Even a small tomato or a lettuce is heavenly tasty for them. So, we don’t bother about hybrids.’

  6. Sandie Roach says:

    Facebook also has a great group ‘FRIENDS OF CONTAINER GARDENING PROJECT IN MALAWI’

    Please pop in for a visit and join our friendly group.

  7. Hazel says:

    Sandie, I didn’t phrase my query very well. (It was a bit early in the morning- coffee hadn’t kicked in !) I know F1’s don’t guarantee identical offspring, but I didn’t suppose that that would be a problem. If you have no choice I don’t imagine which tomato variety you are growing is an issue.

    My point was more about successful germination, the fact that seed companies are trying to incorporate a kind of genetic obsolescence to ensure that we have to keep buying their product. Crops are also treated to slow down or stop germination in some cases. I can only think of potatoes off the top of my head (still early and only 1 cup of coffee), but I know you’re not suggesting we post them!

    I have grown tomatoes from supermarket fruit, so I know it’s possible, and I wasn’t trying to cast doubt on your project, I was just wondering whether all supermarket seeds are as successful?

  8. Sandie Roach says:

    @ Hazel – You could well be correct. However, I just take a chance that some of the seeds I send will be perfect for the growing conditions in Malawi. It costs me very little for the stamp, so there’s nothing much lost if some varieties of seed are unsuccessful. And, if a particular seed grows well and also produces seeds for the following year, Patrick and his group will be extremely happy.

  9. andrea says:

    I’m Andrea from Italy.
    I’m a little sceptic because I think that any envelope or similar filled with seeds, would be opened by police to look inside. In these \days of terrorism, I think every envelope of that kind would be destroyed or suspected to be “illegal”.
    However, the idea is simply GREAT.

  10. Hazel says:

    @Sandie Roach: Sounds fair enough! I’ll be rescuing some of our seeds from the chickens (which is where seeds I don’t grow go at the moment) and posting them.
    Thanks for taking the time to reply.

  11. Sandie Roach says:

    @ Hazel – Thank you so much Hazel 🙂 Patrick and his group will be very pleased to receive your seeds. If you are on facebook there is a group ‘Friends of Container Gardening Project in Malawi’ that you would be very welcome to join. And, perhaps in a while, get feedback from Patrick on how all our seeds are growing.

  12. Dear Friends,
    With great interest I have read the comments above. Nice to see that some universal questions came up: the use of F1-hybrids or heirloom species, the germination rate, the possible difficulties with shipment, etc. In fact, we had no problems up to know sending Patrick seeds from Belgium. We always have put a small label on the envelop or box, mentioning e.g; “bell pepper seeds for container gardening project”. A given percentage of seeds will not germinate. The sterile seeds contribute to the organic content of the soil. And today, most of the genetically modified crops are industrial ones, grown at worldwide scale (maize, wheat, potato, rape, etc.), not the vegetables or fruits. Once the Malawian customs recognize this kind of boxes or envelopes there will be less chances for “intervention”, unless they need seeds thermselves. Anyway, we will get regularly feedback from Patrick on Facebook – see “Friends of container gardening in Malawi”. Thanks for appreciating our idea. Willem.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    @Hazel: Some of my thoughts too, Hazel and I was worried about GM crop seeds as well, but it looks like our questions have been answered; I hope your chickens don’t mind sharing 😉

    @pamela: Sounds like a great plan Pamela; love your blog too 😉

    @Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead: Glad you like the idea Tiffany, and you’re right, there are always plenty of seeds even if you collect your own from crops.

    @Poppy: Yay! thanks Poppy; doesn’t it feel great to know we can help others…

    @andrea: HI Andrea, I’m not sure whether they would be opened or not, but I understand your concerns and it’s something we should be aware of. Although according to Willem, it appears this is not the case…

    Ciao Andrea, io non so se si sarebbero aperti o no, ma capisco le vostre preoccupazioni ed è qualcosa che dovremmo essere a conoscenza. Anche se secondo Willem, sembra non è questo il caso …

  14. Jane says:

    What an interesting idea! My Dad would have loved this. He would try and grow plants wherever we were in the world. We always had seeds drying on the kitchen windowsill which he then labelled up in empty film containers.

  15. Sandie says:

    We have been fortunate enough to have had our application to the UK Co-operative Society approved for ‘Friends of Container Gardening in Malawi’. Patrick Harry’s Project is now in the running for GBP 5,000, which will enable him to begin construction of the Education Centre and also provide seeds, tools and resources for the children of Malawi.

    What we need now, more than anything, is VOTES. Please sign up and cast your vote for this wonderful incentive. The few moments it will take you are precious to this project. Here is the link:

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Warmest wishes, Sandie

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Sandie: How exciting Sandie – I;ll vote and see if I can help spread the word too! Best of luck for the voting.

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