Seed Programs International

peter marksDear Partner,

When I started as SPI CEO 8 years ago, I sat every day at my desk at home here in Asheville, NC. This is the same desk at which I now sit during the pandemic, so in a way, amid growth and change, things have come full circle. While we remain lean and nimble, we’ve increased from two staff to four and, in normal times, we work from an office. Most importantly, we’ve dramatically grown the number and depth of our partnerships worldwide. With your help, 40,000 families a year gain access to seeds and support to grow much-needed fresh, healthy food.

Late last year I decided it was time for me to move on from SPI and allow a new leader to carry forward our essential mission. I don’t yet know what I’m doing next, but I’m excited to find out. If I haven’t yet had the chance to thank you personally for your advice, creative program input, and hands-on partnership in the field: all of your work is deeply appreciated. Without you, SPI would not exist nor have the unique impact that we do. So much of the advice I’ve been able to share, worldwide from Armenia to Zimbabwe, comes from watching and listening to you. The brilliant ideas that you and your beneficiaries bring to the garden every day have helped others that you’ve never met.

I’m writing today to ask your help as we strive to find the right new person to grow SPI to our full potential. Please review our President & CEO job opening on our website, share it with those seeking new work, and forward it through your own networks.


Peter Marks
President & CEO, SPI


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Are people in your own US or Canadian communities, or those you serve, facing unemployment and possible difficulty accessing healthy food? Travel restrictions, unemployment, and warming spring weather are together causing a perfect storm of increase in vegetable seed shopping. It’s reached the point that North American seed companies are overwhelmed with orders. Some have ended online sales for the season or are protecting their supply in order to service vegetable farmers.

Until now, there’s always been ample vegetable seed in the US, and we never thought we’d see the time when our seed supply here at SPI could be an essential American resource, but this is that time.

We at SPI are now seeing increasing seed requests from entities such as non-profit emergency response teams, food banks, community organizations, and local governments that distribute meals to replace those served at schools.

For the first time in our history, we’re actively working to get seeds to partners like you working to prevent malnutrition and boost food security here at home. If you’re interested in ordering SPI vegetable seeds, available in units of 1,000 packets for $250 + shipping, check out our Order Seeds page and contact us today.

Order 1,000 or more packets →

For those families, schools, community groups, or homebound seniors with a little more means to help themselves, we offer our Global Gardeners program, which provides 10 packets of seed for $20-$35, and a “buy one give one” pledge that each garden assortment purchased yields a garden for another family in need, somewhere in the world. If you’d like to partner up with SPI to co-promote this program on behalf of your own seed needs, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to learn more.

Order 10 packets through SPI's Global Gardeners program →

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“In Guatemala, we are not allowed to go out to the communities during this pandemic so we are doing our best to stay in touch and be supportive through technology. Our youth leaders had recently learned about the importance of hand-washing (before the COVID 19 outbreak); and they have taken it upon themselves to train their friends and family members in correct hand-washing techniques to help keep everyone safe. As part of the training, the families learn about a water-saving tool that they can make out of recycled products, since the drought in Guatemala continues. So they get a two-for-one increase in knowledge! Our staff has created WhatsApp groups and they are conducting video conferences to stay in daily touch with the communities and to receive these lovely photos and videos that the community leaders are sending back. I am attaching a few of those for your enjoyment. Our Ag Technician is also in touch with all of the households that have home gardens to help them trouble shoot and keep their plants healthy and thriving. These are the same folks that will benefit from SPI seeds in the future.”

Thanks for all your help,

Feed the Children

02 FTC Youth Garden

03 FTC Children washing hands

As the pandemic continues to disrupt the ways we’re accustomed to bringing food into our homes, we’ve seen a big increase of interest in home gardening. For those new to growing vegetables, it can be tempting to overdo it by spending $500 on ‘stuff’ to grow $200 worth of food. Gardening can be simpler!

In the coming weeks, we’ll share a few tips we’ve learned from our partners in the developing world, where people don’t have the luxury of buying from the internet or visiting a garden center to purchase what they need. Instead, our partners have learned to use materials close to home. Here is the first thing we've learned.

Tip 1: Keep it small.
Focus your hardest work on the smallest area. Make great soil where roots will grow. Leave the soil alone where roots aren’t.

Preparing deep, rich, loose soil is the tough and important job, while planting seeds is easy! Dig deep and enrich the small area where plants are growing and leave the rest of the ground alone. Give just enough space between young plants to grow a full-sized healthy vegetable, but not more space — later you’ll do less watering and less weeding. This garden supported by our partner Tostan in Senegal perfectly illustrates this type of garden design.

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Also from our partner CRMF in Madagascar, here’s a much more sprawling crop, zucchini squash, grown in a contained area — in this case a keyhole garden which is watered through a compost pile in its center. You can see that the soil all around the garden is very poor, like beach sand, so the hard work of adding manure, compost, and good topsoil to make a garden is confined to a small area.

tips 02 peter madagascar keyhole garden

We'll continue to share more tips learned from our partners in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!


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.