Seed Programs International

We are sad to share that John Batcha, SPI’s Founder, passed away on Sunday, June 23, 2019.

John founded SPI in 1998 to meet a need he saw in the world. Combining his agricultural expertise with a passion for changing the world, John created a program at SPI that has provided families and communities with life-sustaining vegetable seed for the past 20 years. In this time, more than 1 million gardens have been planted over 200 sites throughout 75 countries worldwide. John’s legacy is one of heart, hope, and connection — an inspiring example of how we can do good work in the world that changes lives. He will be missed, and we are proud to continue his work.


“I learned from John that there are two ways to change the world: boldly and thoughtfully sharing resources and expertise globally is one way; quietly making life better for everyone around you through human kindness and connection is another way. 

When I spoke with John, both of these paths were evident. His expertise, caring, and creativity as a leader were always present. But even more so, he made me feel like his time with me was his most important moment that day. And I think John's secret is that he made everybody feel that way. Whatever he was dealing with, he would take the extra moment to extend positivity to all around him. This was an amazing achievement. 

I have felt so privileged and honored to carry forward the work John established at Seed Programs International. I'll miss him a lot.” — Peter Marks, SPI CEO / President

Give a gift in memory of John Batcha


Learning at Duke Lemur Center in Madagascar
Learning at Duke Lemur Center in Madagascar

Our work is about local and long-term investment. Our Board Chair, Brian Love, recently said it this way:  “SPI’s vision is that farmers will access vegetable seed sustainably through local networks so that they can determine their future. These local networks include seed saving as well as local supply chains that access seed at a broader scale. Once communities have broken the cycle where no seed is available, SPI refocuses its attention on communities where this remains an issue.”

An investment takes root when people gain knowledge alongside materials. In 2019, with your support, 14,000 people attended a training session provided by an SPI partner about their gardens and harvests. In Ethiopia, women co-op leaders visited a commercial vegetable farm to learn new techniques as part of our partner program with GrowEastAfrica. In Guatemala, families learned how to incorporate their abundant vegetable harvests into familiar dishes to realize the nutritional benefits of their garden — all part of our partnership with Habitat for Humanity. People all over the world are planting seeds for long-term change.

To solve the next generation’s existential challenges, humans everywhere need strength and stability, especially those most impacted by hunger, poverty, and crisis. Now more than ever, it’s time to share what we have, to grow resilience and prosperity in the next generation around the globe.  In 2020, you can provide kids with the knowledge and materials they need to become leaders for generational change through SPI’s seed programs for school gardens.

“This garden has been a great resource for the students, supplying vegetables [that we didn’t have before]. We even involve them in farming. They enjoy working in the garden, and we have seen their mental health improve as they increase their socialization. They are passionate about planting more and more vegetable varieties in the future.” Ms. Otieno, School Diet Manager, Kenya

Will you consider a generous end of year gift of any amount? By donating to SPI, you are making an investment that works. Ms. Otieno is only one of many partners whose students are excited to grow their own food and build a more nutritious and prosperous future.

Please donate today.

Peter Marks
SPI President / CEO

Students Learning with Rotary Club of Manila 101

For the last seven years, the West North Carolina Rotary Clubs of District 7670 and Seed Programs International have provided thousands of seed packets through the Rotarian Against Hunger (RAH) seed grant. The RAH seed grant provides fellow Rotarians worldwide with access to vegetable seeds for nutrition, education, and income development projects. As part of their programs, Rotarians often establish strong working relationships with nonprofits, community groups, and local governmental groups as a way to ensure sufficient support and engage all sectors of the community.

In 2018, enough seed was distributed through Rotarians Against Hunger to grow almost 1000 gardens in Ghana, Honduras, India, Guatemala, and South Africa. These projects included:

  • In India, the Rotary of Bangalore mobilized to establish gardens for families displaced by monsoon flooding in Kerala region;
  • In Honduras, new crops were planted to expand the community’s traditional diet of beans and corn, countering malnutrition;
  • In Guatemala, Rotary teamed up with Habitat for Humanity to alleviate malnutrition and poverty by establishing gardens and offering skills training and nutritional education.

Students with Zimconserve in Zimbabwe

Earlier this year, SPI lost our founder, John Batcha, who passed away on June 23rd. In reflecting on his legacy and writings, John’s passion for improving the lives of children was a theme that he manifested through his work with SPI. We carry on his legacy by directly helping children now, and also by investing in the next generation who will lead their own communities to greater health, economic growth, and resilience to crisis.

“Poverty is as vicious and deadly as terrorism.” — The Times of India

We’ve created a world where 3 billion people live on less than $2.50 a day. Wars destroy homes and fields and displace families. In these human-made circumstances, kids suffer the most: poor nutrition is the leading cause of death for children under age 5. Children who grow up without sufficient nutrition live shorter lives and face ongoing health problems that affect their brain development and physical well-being.

John launched SPI to focus exclusively on vegetable seed. He knew that diets in the developing world are dominated by carbohydrates and that the nutrients in vegetables are essential for child development both in utero and during childhood.

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.