Agronomy and Horticulture Department


Date of this Version



Published in Crop Sci 55:2929–2930 (2015). doi: 10.2135/cropsci2015.07.0409br


© Crop Science Society of America. Used by permission.


As a survey of contemporary community-level seed banks, this is an excellent compilation and instructive guide. The first section provides an overview of how seed banks originated, their varied goals and activities, several contrasting forms of management, and how they organize and perform to meet these goals. An intriguing claim in the book is that the concept of “seed banks is only some three decades old,” while in fact the practice of saving, preserving, and exchanging seed within a community is probably as old as human communities themselves.

Organized seed banks often serve specific functions: preserving seeds, providing seed access for members of the community, generating a degree of food security and food sovereignty, or some combination of these. There are different levels of participation and types of governance, with most involving some degree of direct involvement by farmers in the planting, conditioning, and storing of seed, and maintaining the seed-bank facility. These depend on the crop, the shared goals of the seed community participants, and the available resources.