Seed Rematriation Using a Participatory Conservation Model

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2021: $40,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Grant Recipient: Seed Savers Exchange
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Heather Haynes
Seed Savers Exchange
Cindy Goodner
Seed Savers Exchange

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, sunflower
  • Fruits: melons
  • Vegetables: beans, Squash, Jerusalem artichoke


  • Crop Production: cover crops, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, no-till, organic fertilizers, seed saving
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: organic matter
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships, quality of life, urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Seed Savers Exchange (IA) will partner with eight Native farmers at nine distinct sites in Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan to regenerate regional varieties from seed we researched and believe to have Indigenous origins. This project grew out of the successes and lessons learned from the 2020 partnership funded by NC-SARE, and the acknowledgement that more farmers growing and saving seeds at more sites builds greater resilience against weather and other factors that may impact the growing season. More partner sites also help identify more varieties that grow well in a variety of environmental conditions (particularly short northern growing seasons), contributing to sustainable food sovereignty and climate adaptability.

    Because the partners are geographically diverse and we anticipate that COVID-19 will continue to present challenges, we are planning to share the knowledge and experiences of all partners through a series of four virtual forums that will highlight our partners, the varieties they chose, and their approaches to Indigenous agriculture and integrated land/habitat conservation. The well-publicized forums will also provide education and demonstrations around germination techniques, soil management, growing methods, hand pollination, and seed saving, and will be recorded for continued application after the initial live broadcast with Q & A.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Grow and evaluate 10-15 Indigenous crop varieties at Seed Savers Exchange and approximately 40 varieties at partner sites¬†
    • Share and demonstrate organic growing, hand pollination, and other planting/growing/harvesting/seed saving techniques among partners
    • Use virtual forums to educate key audiences and a broader segment of the public
    • Increase knowledge of Indigenous foodways and land management practices
    • Support Indigenous agricultural sustainability, food access, and economic opportunity through rematriation of Indigenous varieties
    • Ensure adequate seed inventory in the SSE seed bank for long-term preservation
    • Ensure that varieties can be grown again in the communities in which they were originally grown
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.