Seed Programs International

Funny Faces with Consider Haiti

Funny Faces with Consider Haiti

For many families in Montrouis, Haiti, access to clean water, health care, and adequate food supply are challenges that were worsened by the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. Through locally organized efforts, our Asheville-based partner and neighbor, Consider Haiti has assisted families in restoring some of the gardens destroyed by the hurricane. The result: farmers are slowly reestablishing themselves and their crop production.

In 2017, Consider Haiti helped over over 2,000 children and their families gain access to medicine, dental care, and fresh produce. Consider Haiti programs involve the distribution of medicine, livestock like goats and rabbits, SPI seeds and other agricultural products to the communities they serve. One of the key elements shared by both SPI and Consider Haiti programs is that they actively support and work with local Haitian teams for project development and implementation. Consider Haiti’s agriculture team in Montrouis is led by Eddy P., a lifelong farmer who has been working with families in this region for over 15 years. Shortly after the storm, Eddy heard reports of hungry children in the local farming community and decided to step up and help. Being an illiterate self-taught farmer, he soon realized he was not equipped to provide the level of help that was needed.

Women with quinoa plants, GrowEastAfrica

Women with quinoa plants, GrowEastAfrica

Hi folks,

We opened this project by telling you about GrowEastAfrica, our partner in Ethiopia. You'll recall that they are an Ethiopian diaspora-led group based in the US. We recently had the honor of speaking with co-founder Yohannes by phone to learn about what's happening on the ground.

GrowEastAfrica Partnership Development
GrowEastAfrica is doing fantastic work toward facilitating economic empowerment for the communities they serve. Of note, they've recently helped organize two new women's groups and they're currently negotiating to secure 4 hectares of land for a community garden. In addition to growing vegetables and quinoa, the women are planning activities that can be completed between planting and harvesting seasons to generate more income. Seed saving for market sales and raising poultry are currently at the top of the list.

Assessing their immediate needs, the women have determined that water storage is their first priority. They're outlining a plan for installing 10,000 liter tanks that can be used for irrigation and other farming activities. And that's where this project comes in! We're now working with Yohannes and the women's groups on the best way to acquire, deliver, and install tanks for each group

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.


enza zadenEnza Zaden is an innovative, international vegetable breeder and seed producer based in the region known as “seed valley” in The Netherlands. Enza’s US headquarters is in Salinas, California.

Enza Zaden and SPI are for-profit and not-for-profit companies, yet we share very similar goals. “Our primary aim is to grant people anywhere in the world access to healthy, varied vegetables,” is Enza’s pledge. They achieve that by breeding varieties that require fewer crop inputs, are resistant to diseases, and that can be grown in places where very few vegetable cropping choices are otherwise available. To back up the seed, Enza staff provide technical assistance to growers and remote distributors in order to get the most benefit from their varieties.

As a generous supporter of SPI’s work via cash donation, Enza Zaden is putting extra muscle into their core beliefs. While Enza uses a sustainable business model to reach emerging small farmers in economically developing regions, SPI is providing similar services to people who can’t afford seeds at all, are too isolated to reach seed sources, and/or have been touched by crises and disasters. As conditions improve and SPI’s local partners work to strengthen their communities, SPI seed users can become customers of Enza Zaden and other seed companies, many of whom are working hard to extend the availability of good vegetable seed throughout the word.

There are still 800 million people in our world who don’t have enough nutrition to lead a healthy life. To solve a problem this big, we need all hands on deck working together: businesses, charities, individual supporters of all faiths and backgrounds, and people striving to improve their own communities. Thank you, Enza Zaden, for joining us in this work.

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.