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Global seed network

Swap seeds with just about anyone around the world

My grandmother grew tomatoes with mouth-watering flavor off the charts. I would love to find those heirloom seeds, and a new website developed by the Center for Food Safety might make that happen.  It’s called the Global Seed Network, and is an online community designed to help maintain seed diversity and allow growers to swap rare and unique seeds.

Erin Austin is a program associate at the Center for Food Safety. She says to get started, you log in, create a profile, and upload information about the seeds you would like to share.  

"Crop traits, where they were grown, the location, the climate region, any resistance to blights or pests, etc. You can post as many seeds as you have available of all different varieties," says Austin, "And then you can use the network to search for seeds as well, so you can search by all of the same characteristics."

If you find seeds that you’d like or if someone else finds your seeds interesting, Austin says you will be connected by email to coordinate the details. She also notes this is a free exchange - there is no bartering or exchange of money on the site.

Of course, there is the element of trust in that you’re getting what you asked for. Beyond user goodwill, there are terms of use that participants need to agree to.

"No seeds on the website can be genetically engineered or modified in any way or patented. We also have a rating system," says Austin. "So, if you had an experience with a user that was really positive or negative, you’re allowed to share that as well, which could indicate the success of future seed sharing from that individual."  

Austin says for now the site is mainly up-and-running in the United States, but they are working on the international stage so seeds can be swapped with folks in other countries.

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