Seeds of Change

Sign up for our e-newsletter! Information, news and exclusive offers for your organic lifestyle delivered fresh to your inbox.

Welcome to Seeds of Exchange Blog - A blog for the discussion of biodiversity, sustainable agriculture and incredibly delicious organic food

Monday, December 17, 2007

On Sustainability

This is a subject that means so much to me on both a personal and professional level. But let me start with an introduction: My name is Bob Allison, and I’m the Food Director for Seeds of Change. I’ve spent close to 21 years in the food industry, most of it in developing markets such as Africa, India, and the Middle East, and in my travels I’ve seen a lot of great and not-so-great examples of sustainability. That’s why I’m so proud to be a part of a company like Seeds of Change: To be able to use my experience to further the vision of a more sustainable future for all. And to do whatever I can to help further the Seeds of Change mission: “Preserving biodiversity and promoting the use of sustainable organic agricultural practices.”

There’s been an awful lot written about sustainability lately -- which is terrific -- but sometimes it gets a little difficult to navigate. So I hope I can shed some light on what we’re doing to further sustainability at Seeds of Change. We really focus on two main areas. The first is our 1% fund, where we directly contribute 1% of our net food & seed product sales to help support sustainable organic agricultural initiatives. In 2007 we supported local initiatives like helping the OFRF (Organic Farming and Research Foundation) to develop a newsletter that will foster the improvement and adoption of organic farming practices. At the same time, we also supported global initiatives like working with partners such as Conservation International in the Bahia region of Eastern Brazil. This program helps to strengthen the role of traditional organic cabruca cacao farming (the source of organic chocolate) and the establishment of permanent preservation areas -- which in turn leads to greater biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods for the people of the region. On a side note, the program also focuses on areas of strategic importance in biodiversity corridors used by indigenous wildlife.

The second area we focus on is our business practices, including immersing our Seeds of Change associates in our mission. We’ve implemented several initiatives to help reduce the carbon footprint of our products, such as environmentally friendlier packaging, making and selling only certified organic products, and sourcing as many locally grown raw materials for our food products as possible. We use only recycled paper in our office, print our seed catalog on 100% post-consumer waste paper, and help our suppliers become more environmentally conscious. On a more personal note we also want to give our associates the chance to get more involved, so we’ve introduced the Seeds of Change associate volunteer program. Each year our associates submit a sustainability recommendation to the business, which would allow them up to two weeks of paid leave to partner with their favorite organization to advance our mission. This year one of our associates is helping the Trio Montessori School in Espanola, New Mexico to assist the students and teachers in implementing a rainwater harvesting project. Not only will the project aid the irrigation of their gardens, it will teach the students more about organic growing in the arid climate of northern New Mexico.

Now don’t get me wrong: We don’t view these achievements (if that’s the right word) as the end-all and be-all of sustainability. We know all too well that there is much work still to be done. In fact, there will always be work to be done –- and we try to remind ourselves of this from time to time -- that there isn’t a sustainability finish line lurking up ahead somewhere when we can all say “we’re done.” Working towards sustainability is a constant process.

We should know. Seeds of Change has been in the “sustainability business” ever since we were founded back in 1989. And as we grow and flourish, thanks to the support of loyal customers like you, our funding and support for sustainability and biodiversity projects around the world will in turn grow as well. So you see, it’s true what they say: We’re all in this together.

Join the discussion by posting a comment below. Only comments specifically addressing issues discussed in the Seeds of Change blog post will be posted. If you have a question or comment for Seeds of Change that is unrelated to this blog, please use either our Organic Foods Contact Us page or our Organic Seed and Gardening Contact Us page so we may respond to you accordingly. Business propositions sent to this blog will not be reviewed.