Seed Programs International

your gift supports haiti

Beatrice Marseille is a Haitian-American nurse practitioner based in New York state. In Beatrice’s original hometown of Meyer, Haiti, the staff of the health care clinic she helped establish now prescribe vegetable seeds along with medicines. Beatrice understands that a vitamin pill or a prescription medicine can help a lot, but for long-term health, clinic patients must take control over their own nutrition, economic power, and well-being. This is where vegetable seeds change lives. This type of change gets woven into the social fabric of the community and extends into future generations.

your gift supports liberiaUmaru Sheriff was once among the “most vulnerable” in society. When the Liberian civil war struck, he was forced to flee his home and everything he knew, and spent five years as a refugee in Sierra Leone. Today, as Executive Director of 4-H Liberia, Umaru leads life-enriching, agriculture-focused learning for students at 80 schools in five counties — many of whom have planted SPI seeds to enhance their school lunches and their own knowledge of agriculture and nutrition. If Umaru has his way, the next generation of Liberians will be stocked with leaders who build a strong future and reject the destructive ways of the past.

Our work here at the office is to be a conduit of your generous giving, transforming a few dollars into garden-centered resources, and ensuring those resources land in powerful hands. People like Umaru and Beatrice are the driving force of our SPI success stories.

There’s a word that comes to mind for me: humanity. So much of our daily news these days is about division, human cruelty, and promotion of self-interest or national interests. I love working for SPI because, in a context that can feel toxic, we can express humanity around the globe by putting resources in the hands of local leaders who are deeply improving their communities. Every day, your gift of vegetable seeds and gardening expertise brings hope, nutrition, income, and self-reliance for those facing unimaginably challenging conditions.

This gift is not expressed as a handout or a short-term fix. The gift of seeds and skills can be guarded by strong leaders like Beatrice and Umaru, preserved, passed on, and multiplied.

Please consider making a generous annual gift to SPI, today. Donate online at givenow.to/SPI or by mail to:

Seed Programs International
PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815

With gratitude,

Peter Marks
CEO / President
Seed Programs International

seeds for school gardensSchool gardens grow vegetables, and also grow future leaders to counter hunger and poverty in their communities. In many locations, a garden-supported school lunch is the only healthy meal a child will receive during the day. These gardens enrich the learning environment, motivate parents to keep kids in school, and teach kids the value of engaging with the land.

Our new project, Seeds and Support for School Gardens Worldwide, will help grow a generation of young adults who can lead families and communities to greater health, economic growth, and resilience to crisis. With your help, we're growing gardens in 9 countries in 2019!

Ayiti KonseVet (AKV), one of our long-term partners in Haiti, has a strong tradition of working with students and school gardens. Under Agronomist Wedly Pierre Décéus’ supervision, AKV has trained teachers, established gardens, and provided support services to schools throughout the regions they serve. To quote, “AKV has a vision to establish school gardens everywhere.”

We’re proud to work with AKV and other partners who support school gardens across the world. We hope you’ll consider supporting them through our project today.

Read more about School Gardens Worldwide →


Aissata Camara, Twitter Aug 8 2018

We wouldn’t be here without the inspirational work of leaders around the world who multiply manyfold our investment in their efforts. In honor of SPI’s 20th anniversary, we’ll be celebrating these leaders throughout the next year. Today, we're celebrating Aissata Camara, Co-founder of There Is No Limit Foundation.

Aissata's motto is “Empowered women empower other women." She lives her motto through her dedication to ending poverty, inequality, and injustices like female genital cutting (FGM/C) and other forms of gender based violence (GBV). This is not always easy, especially in places where these practices are deeply entrenched in a community's social fabric. It takes tremendous courage to stand against cultural practices that have been passed from generation to generation for thousands of years.

From the start, Aissata’s work challenged these traditions. Despite receiving threats against herself and her family, she continued building relationships within her community that would support change. She soon developed a reputation for connecting people with the resources they need to gain security and dignity in their lives. Today, many who once perceived her as an enemy are her partners and allies in ending injustice and poverty.

SPI’s partnership with Aissata is part of her, and our, investment in this community. Not only are vegetable seeds and gardens an especially powerful resource for nutrition and economic empowerment, but our work together builds trust that can lead to safe spaces for dialogue and social change.

On a recent trip to her native home in Guinea, Aissata visited the town of Walto, where she and her team worked with youth to create theater pieces and poems on the impact of FGM and GBV. Aissata shares, “I’m proud that change is coming! The communities served by There Is No Limit Foundation are working to change social norms. That’s why I believe in breaking the silence. We’re changing lives.”

Learn more about There Is No Limit Foundation  →

Read more about Aissata Camara  →

Visit Aissata Camara on Twitter  →

We like to share success stories, struggles, recipes, gardening tips, and the latest examples of our work with our supporters. But as the peak season for charitable donation is upon us, you might be wishing for clear answers to some more basic questions that help complete the picture of SPI. Donating to our work (or that of any non-profit organization) is an act of great trust; being stewards of that trust is a responsibility that we take seriously. So, call or email anytime with questions. In the meantime, these are a few of the questions we get asked the most:

I know you send vegetable seeds and support training all over the world so that people can grow gardens, but how do you choose where to partner up and send seeds?

SPI engages with and helps build the strength of local people and communities. Local people understand their own culture, context, and priorities best. So most of all we’re looking for effective, emerging, respected, and respectful leadership. Sometimes people and organizations here in the US and Canada have already identified such leaders, and can help them access SPI seed. Other times, small organizations in Africa, the Caribbean, and other regions find us online or through a past SPI partner. Once we’re established in one part of a country, we may deliberately seek out other effective partnerships nearby.  

Where does the seed come from . . . and is it genetically modified (GMO)?
Because we ship hundreds of thousands of packets a year, the smaller companies who sell direct to the public are not our seed donors. Many of the companies that donate seed to us are working behind the scenes growing seed that in the end gets packaged under other brand names. Two examples are Condor Seed Production, an Arizona company, and Sakata, a Japanese seed company with a US office in California.

SPI does not provide any GMO seed. We don’t work with grains like corn and rice; for almost all the types of vegetables we offer, there are no GMO types in existence. For a couple (such as squash and eggplant) there a few GMO types. We are never offered these varieties, nor would we accept them if we were — import is not allowed in many of our destination countries.

How big is your budget and how much of it goes to programs? Will my donation be used efficiently, without waste? Our budget for 2017 is about $250,000. You can download our tax return and our audited financials from our website. Our CEO compensation appears on page 7 of the tax return. Page 10 shows that expense percentages were 89.7% for programs vs.10.3% for administration and fundraising.

For how many years do you send seed to the same place?
We don’t think sending seeds thousands of miles from the US is a good long-term solution. Whether a project is focused on crisis recovery, income, basic nutrition, resilience to disaster, or any other goal, it is important for SPI to start partnerships with an end in mind. Our goal is to work with our partners to help seed growers and recipients achieve self-sufficiency. Sometimes this is through seed saving. More often our partners’ work is to achieve a heightened interest in growing, eating, and selling vegetables. Once that is in place, there is personal and financial motivation for program partners or seed recipients to connect with vegetable seed sellers in their own region. 

How are you funded?
People like you are essential to our work! Currently we pay our bills with a ratio of just about 1/3 grants from charitable foundations, 1/2 donations from individuals and businesses, and the rest from contributions to seed cost by our partners. (When we provide seed for better-resourced partners like the UN World Food Program or US-based church group, we charge them a small amount per packet to help cover our cost.)

Can I give you seed that I saved, or my leftover seed packets?
Unfortunately, no, for a couple of reasons. First, we are careful to select varieties that will grow well in tropical areas where most malnourished people live. Many common vegetable garden varieties from the US would not do well. Second, to meet the strict import laws of some countries, seeds are inspected by the USDA to be free of pests, diseases, invasive weed seed, etc. If we gathered seeds from many small sources, we could not pass these inspections.


Contact Us

Seed Programs International

PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815


Seed Programs Canada (Affiliate)

Registered Charity No. 839858107RR0001
Lombardy, ON

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Seed Programs International (SPI)

Seed Programs InternationalSeed Programs International (SPI) is a non-profit, tax exempt, non-governmental humanitarian organization.

We work thorough other humanitarian organizations, church groups, service clubs and individual donors, to provide quality seed to impoverished communities in developing countries enabling them to grow some of their own food. In addition to seed, SPI provides critical seed expertise and experience operating seed based self help programs.”

SPI is operated by individuals with over 50 years seed industry experience plus over 20 years experience in vegetable research and production. We also have 15 years experience operating programs that have successfully shipped seed to over 70 countries on five continents. SPI has shipped enough seed to plant over 1,000,000 vegetable gardens, providing more than 20 kinds of vegetables that are rich in vitamins and minerals often missing in people’s diets.