Seed Programs International

Now Displaced in Syria
Now Displaced in Syria

Dear Supporters of "Seeds for Syria,"

Unfortunately, this report will be a logistics-based tale of project issues, as opposed to the positive, personal success stories we are able to deliver in most other project reports. In humanitarian development and relief work, we all see lots of both. As generous donors, you deserve to hear of each in turn.

In the last week, Turkey has closed two border crossings and made even harder the already-difficult prospect of moving aid supplies and personnel to the 6 million+ people who have fled from their homes in Syria.

Seed Programs International works with leading Turkish NGO Orient for Human Relief, via the US-based Karam Foundation. In consultation with these partners, we anticipate facing a time soon when the type of much-needed support described in this project will be impossible to deliver.

Even in history's worst times of war it has been a long tradition to attempt to protect the innocent, allow them safe passage to protected areas for the displaced, and keep open routes of humanitarian aid. In Syria this has barely been the case and things are now getting worse due to the Turkish border closings.

Our prior shipment of seed (not funded by these donations) was recently detained by Turkish customs without any good cause, and is under threat of destruction, even though all the import papers are procedures are in place. We are now doing all we can to save our shipment of much-needed seeds .

For the above reasons, we believe it is the right thing to do to stop fundraising for this project. While we close the project at less than 20% of the way toward our goal, we will nonetheless absolutely ensure that your donation is used to provide nutrition support for displaced Syrians. However, this support may not be through the methods described in this GlobalGiving project, so it seems wrong to leave this crowdfunding project up and running in current form.

I welcome you to contact me personally with any questions about this update. Ethical use of donor funds is our top priority and I would be eager to address any concerns you may have. Just use the contact link on our website, listed below.


 Video still of Honduran woman farmer

Video still of Honduran woman farmer

"Farming is an art. It requires an artist. The farmers who produce seeds, both men and women, are artists and scientists." So says Marvin Gomez, one of the leaders of the impressive farmer-run group FIPAH in Honduras who are just about to receive the first shipment of vegetable seeds from SPI.


Today we are sharing a video produced by USC Canada highlighting FIPAH's work. I hope you have the time to watch the whole 13 minutes. It gives a wonderful window into the communities in Honduras where our vegetable seeds are headed.

Gardening is a community effort.Gardening is a community effort.

We thank you so much again for your support of this microproject to produce gardens for widows and elders in the area of Chajul, Guatemala. If you are not familiar with this part of the world, you can learn more about its history and get initial hints as to why there are so many widows, starting at this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chajul.

Currently it has been 90 days since completing funding of the project and we are asked to file a report, but the hands-on portion of the project work is truly just getting started. It’s a simple fact that agricultural cycles sometimes don’t line up with project funding cycles. In this case, major work on the maize crop completes during February and now, finally, is one of the annual seasons when vegetable planting can occur.

There have been two interesting developments since we initiated the project. First, our partners in Chajul, the organization ASO-Ixil, determined that many of the widows simply don’t have adequate land at home for gardening, or if they do, the soil has never been improved and the work to do so would be excessive. A creative solution was found: they identified four farmers who will host gardens for nearby widows on their land, 5 widows each. This will provide a land base for those who do not have it.

Second, ASO-Ixil agronomist Henry Caba researched fertilizers that would help improve the soil in gardens in Chajul. This soil appears dark and fertile, and is rich with some nutrients, but like many volcanic soils worldwide, it is deficient in certain micro- and macronutrients plants need to thrive. Having identified a Guatemalan vendor of an appropriate organic fertilizer, Mr. Caba succeeded in bringing her to the community for a workshop. The region/district (El Quiché) was never before served by this company. A special price was negotiated for ASO-Ixil.

The workshop participants were the ASO-Ixil Board, local farmer leaders, and those people that assisted with the first garden project.   They also invited some local university agriculture students who will be providing labor to help the widows.

At this point there are 50 widow households identified and more on a waiting list to receive this gardening support. All are excited for this project to develop. While we are only required to post this one “final report” on this smaller project, we will be sure to post another once harvests begin, so you can see the fruits of your gift emerging from the soil.  

Graphic from ASO-Ixil Facebook Page

Graphic from ASO-Ixil Facebook Page


Kitchen garden

Kitchen garden

Empowering women and growing gardens

Empowering women is essential to ending poverty and advancing gender equality. Due to war, natural disasters and gender inequality, women often have no way to escape poverty and malnutrition for themselves or their children.

When a woman learns a new skill, her whole world opens up. At Seed Programs International we are proud of our partnerships that allow us to advance the economic empowerment of women. With your help, vegetable seeds provided by SPI will grow vegetable gardens for women and children in great need of nutrition and income. Seed Programs International has helped grow over a million gardens since 1998. With your help we can provide support such as seeds, tools, and horticultural knowledge so women can grow food and provide for their families.

Contact Us

Seed Programs International

PO Box 9163
Asheville, NC 28815


Seed Programs Canada (Affiliate)

Registered Charity No. 839858107RR0001
Lombardy, ON

Get Connected

Facebook  Twitter  Email

Join Our Newsletter

Signup with your email address below to receive our quarterly e-newsletter.


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.