Seeds of Change

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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.


Anonymous said...

Sustainability is, in most people's minds, something you really have to commit to, like marriage. So they think it's just too hard to do, even if they know it's good for the environment and a green thing to do. I think most people think they have to have a family farm to practice sustainability and they have to weave their own clothing. You know what I'm getting at. But what can one do in the suburbs with a front and back yard? And what can you shop for at the local supermarket? And what can one do every day that adds in a small way to sustainability?

johniji said...

To achieve a sustainable future we need to leave behind the myth of rugged individualism and self-reliance and realize that sustainability is intrinsically linked with community. This empowers each of us to do what we're good at, or what we're blessed with the resources to do. I enjoyed reading Barbara Kingsolver's new book: "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle!" We don't each have to grow our own food to be sustainable; but we can all help create sustainable communities by supporting the efforts of local farmers, farmer's markets, restaurants that source their ingredients locally, local food co-ops, local merchants, artisans and service providers. In doing so, we defy the forces that pursue profit at the cost of alienation and environmental disruption, and support community, local diversity and sustainability. In doing so, we empower a positive future by voting with our dollars and our simple daily choices of who and how we are in the world. It's time to quit playing the games of "business as usual" and start making those little choices that build sustainable communities. The sooner we do so, and the more of us that do it, the sooner we'll change this world into what it should be. It is simply incongruous that we have so much knowledge, wealth and ability to communicate globally, and still we have hunger and pain in so many regions of this world. But we can change all that. I've started to share some vision of just how we might all do this. See for more details.

formulas said...

Seeds of Change is a great project and I would like to have had a group like this back in early 1970's. I have farmed and do garden now and yearn for the the original seeds from back then the rutger beefsteak tomato and the suger and cream sweetcorn variety. The taste and the texture was very good so along comes the seed companies who want more shelf life and disease resistant varieties and more yields. This is where we are today. The 60's you could earn a good living for your family on a small farm and today I beleive the only hope is to farm all naturally. This may be the great hope.

universal said...

My name is Jerry Frey I am in the process of developing a plan, that will be a win win for people in need and freeinterprize and homelessand family values.

jo said...

At age 69 guess what, we all ate basically organic when I was young. Antibiotics hadn't been invented for humans yet let alone animals. No one had heard of growth hormones. Unfortunatly, now I have to pay high prices on retirement income to eat the same foods I was raised on. What a shame. My biggest complaint though is not enough products are low sodium. All us old duffers have high BP>

Anonymous said...

Where did your orgnaic salsa go? I don't see it listed on your site? It was the best!

Heidi said...

do not purchase from seeds of change--they are owned by mars incorporated. I found this out when I had a negative customer service experience with s of c and was so surprised by the supervisor passing the buck to the "policies of the corporate office" that I had to ask--are you owned by some parent company?
sure enough
try uprising seeds in Bellingham, washington

Heidi said...

do not purchase from seeds of change--they are owned by mars incorporated. I found this out when I had a negative customer service experience with s of c and was so surprised by the supervisor passing the buck to the "policies of the corporate office" that I had to ask--are you owned by some parent company?
sure enough
try uprising seeds in Bellingham, washington

Judy said...

The item that Heidi posted raises a red flag for me. This company may be committed to agricultural sustainability, but there is nothing shown on their website about fair trade or the commitment to end human trafficking on agricultural plantations in the developing world -- the kind of plantations from which they obtain their cacao, rice, and other ingredients.
In fact, Mars corp. is committed to just the opposite. They are only trying to source their cacao the cheapest way possible, without regard for the communities that farm it.
I won't be buying Seeds of Change products until they can assure me that they are committed to fair trade and obtain certification.

BD-Organic Farming said...

My comment is that- this Organic Exchange Blog is PRETTY Improtant and Essential to share and speak about the Organic and making the world Full Organic- to save the People, Soil and the Environment.
Here please do read more about me and my interests ESPECIALLY for Organic and its Global Networking:

Dear All Globally:
This is Mr. Surya Nath Adhikari from Nepal - the Agricultural Country.

First, I would like to introduce myself in detail:

I am 39 year old Agriculturist having my own family farm.

I am wishing to make my Family Farm first Full Organic and then Transition into Bio-Dynamic Organic Farm.

I am former International J1Exchange Visitor (Trainee) for Farm & Industry Short Course Graduate (One Year Certificate) from University of Wisconsin -Madison, CALS , USA 2001-2002 batch. Presently, I am a Family Farmer and also a Managing Director of - BIO-DYNAMIC ORGANIC FARMING & SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE SERVICE PVT. LTD. I am also Bio-dynamic Organic Farming Student and Trainee of Peter Proctor (the Pioneer of Modern Biodynamic Farming & Soil Scientist) from New Zealand conducted at Bhaktivedanta Academy for Sustainable & Integrated Living (BASIL)/BDAI at ESCON Farm, Bangalore , India .

I am also working as Country Representative/Partner from Nepal for the following Global Exchange Organizations/Partners:

(1) Communicating for Agriculture Exchange Program, MN-USA for Dairy, Field Crops, Horticulture,
Apiary and Fishery Placements in the US Host Farms ( Reference Maja Bherens:

(2) The Global Cow Ltd, Vermont-USA for Dairy Placements only ( Reference- Jill Stahl Tyler:

(3) IEPUK , UK for Dairy, Field Crops and Horticulture Placements only (Reference: Vanessa Peach:

(4) Worldwide Farmers Exchange (WFE)-assisting in sending applications and
screening trainees as well as trying to establish Fiber Based Productions Business Export to the US ( Reference: Christopher Barden/Ashley Medulan:

(5) Rural Exchange-New Zealand, RENZ (Reference: Vicky Lucas:

(6) Life Member for Wisconsin Agriculture and Life Sciences Alumni Association (WALSAA) for various International Relationships. (Reference: Richard Daluge, Dean of Short Course & Richard Cates, Professor forUW-Madison, WI Grass based Dairy Seminar:

(7) Sending Trainees for the Bibber International, Australia for Winery Placements too (Reference: Sue Calghoris:

(8)Working Closely with Multinational Exchange for the Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) Program (, Ref: Lauren )
(9) Recommending my neighboring farmers every year for the FISC Program at UW-Madison-my beloved Program and the University! (References: Richard Daluge, Gail Austin,

As I am a former Trainee in International Agriculture Exchange Program, I know
that how important and necessary are the Agriculture Exchange Programs for the
young farmers from the Agricultural and Developing Country like Nepal .

I have very good and wide networks among Nepalese farmers who wish to
participate in such exchange programs for Practical Farming Experiences and Cultural
Exchanges. And, I have found and experienced that some people (farmers) wish to
go to different countries for the Different Agricultural Trainings. It depends upon their
training needs/ Farming Interests and the country love, choice and many more things that they have as a Country / Agricultural System CRAZE!

So, I am still interested to widen the Global Agriculture/Farm Exchange Networks among different countries around the globe. By the Global Agriculture Exchange Programs, we can share bilateral Agriculture and Cultural Experiences as well as it can be a great Adventure for the participants and great Labor Aid to the host/employers. So, you are welcome to contact me regarding the Global Agriculture Exchange Programs .

On the other hand (ALTERNATIVELY), I have EXPLORED and I am FEELING as GREAT NECESSITY FOR going full ORGANIC FARMING AND ITS REVOLUTIONARY PRACTICES (my Main Interest) which has been Today's Most essential part of Farming around the globe- both for Human Health and the Environmental Concerns as well as for the life of the Farm Fields (Soil Fertility) which is a farmer's Everything.

So, I have also decided to move myself towards the Organic Farming System-(1) by knowing more and more about this farming system from grassroots level to convert/transition my own family farm to the Organic One which is in Progress and (2) by educating and providing full support and services to the Nepalese Farmers (as well as foreign participants) –TO GO ORGANIC by transitioning their Conventional Farms to the Organic One by teaching the farmers about how to make Organic Inputs and how to use.

So, my main INTEREST is to establish a Project/ Joint Venture Organic Exchange Program to educate and help Nepalese Farmers –TO GO ORGANIC. As well as I wish to establish an Organic Awareness (Educational) Institution by our Bilateral Venture/Efforts. And for this, we need to start both practical and theoretical awareness programs too.

So, Can we start either –(1)International Organic Exchange /Training Programs by Placing the Young Nepalese Farmers at Organic Host Farms OR-(2) Establish a joint venture On-farm Organic Farming Demonstration Project Program here in Nepal to educate Nepalese Farmers for Sustainability as well as bring Foreign Trainees/Visitors to Nepal too as an Inbound Programs ? (My Second but Prioritized Interest)

Please do let me know about it and I would love to get more information or suggestions regarding the matters for the Organic Practices and the movements in NEPAL .

There is also a VITAL DEMAND for the Organic Vegetable/Fruits and Food Crops.

NOTE: By Agriculture Exchange/Internship/ Employment Programs, Labor Shortages also can be fulfilled for some time in the countries where Labor Supply is the main concern.

Finally, my goal will be to move towards Bio-Dynamic Organic Farming System to educate Nepalese Farmers about Bio-diversity and its Holistic Management in the Farm when we entirely all set for the Organic Farming Practices.

Thank you for your great support.

More in the next.

Hope to get reply.


Surya Nath Adhikari (Former Exchange Visitor at UW-Madison-USA, Agriculturist & Global Exchange Partner)

Managing Director For-

Gothatar V.D.C.-8, Kandaghari , Birendra Chowk, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tele # 977-01-4990880

Govt of Nepal Regd No. 48702/064/065

Anonymous said...

Fantastic tase hmn... Plus it's good for you. It can't get better that this :)
Valeria Rossi

Anonymous said...

Now that M&M Mars is the parent company, I suspect quality of products sold may change. After all, their dog food (pedigree) has recently shown to have salmonella. They also perform animal testing. How is this sustainable?

Anonymous said...

WOW I had no idea Seeds of Change is owned by bigger companies like that! I do not support those bigger companies, mars etc.

I am sickened to know the times I have bought Seeds of Change I was supporting that! They should be sued for false advertising. It is an illusion.

I will no longer buy their products and will do what I can to spread the word.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the cinnamon/nibs Bayano chocolate bar? It's not on the web site. It was so delicious and no other company makes a bar like that...

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked at the ill advised comments about Seeds of Change being owned by Mars Inc. Mars is a family owned business with the highest standards. Each member of the family is dedicated to doing good. They have enough money, they do not need more and their motivation is global same as you and me. They try to do everything as sustainably and organically as possiable. Try to make it in this world without a support, would never happen. This is a Cinderella story, not bad news.

Anonymous said...

How disappointing. Here's more info. on Seeds of Exchange and what Mars Inc is up to... decide for yourselves.

Anonymous said...

I checked out the and it looks good.

Ok, Seeds Of Changes: are you even reading these posts? Are you addressing the concerns about Fair Trade, doing anything to stop Monsanto? What are you doing? I'm sure we all applaud you for your committment to organics, but I'd like to know, since Mars is so huge and powerful - are you trying to stop the GMO plague on this planet? This blatant Monsatan plan to enslave the world?

Because who is not part of the solution, is part of the problem.

I won't blame you JUST for being bought up by Mars, I'll still support this company, IF and only IF some of the power is being used for the political good of fighting Monsatan.

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