The Scatterseed Project, as featured in the documentary "Seed: The Untold Story", was started by Will Bonsall in Industry, Maine over 40 years ago. His vision was to grow a diverse array of crops in order to protect diversity and connect people with their horticultural heritage. Currently the Scatterseed Project collects, maintains, and distributes thousands of varieties of crop plants, many of them rare or endangered. Scatterseed originally got its name from the concern that genetic material preserved in some institutional collections (“seed banks”) is not available to the general public. Ultimately the most sustainable place for preserving genetic diversity is in the horticultural landscape – the gardens and farms of the world – where varieties are actively used, evaluated, and in some cases adapted and evolved.

Why bother? Extinction is a term we often hear only attributed to wild things, but it is a harsh reality for agriculture, as well. 94% of vegetable seed varieties have been lost during the 20th century. As global agriculture became more consolidated and food production moved away from local farms and backyard gardens, the majority of heritage varieties vanished. Not only do diverse heirloom crops connect us with our past, but they also hold solutions for future problems. 

Help protect crop seed diversity by ordering seeds from Scatterseed Project to grow in your own garden or farm. 

"Genetic diversity is the hedge between us and global famine." - Will Bonsall

Produced at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies by Sarah Buckingham (audio) & Graham Letorney (photos).