Tuesday, 21 November 2017 00:00

#GivingTuesdayCA | Why do community seed banks change lives?

This Giving Tuesday, let's raise $10,000.00 to build a community seed bank in Timor Leste! 

Giving Tuesday is November 28! [usc canada logo with sprout icon]

It takes just $10,000.00 to make a huge positive change in a community. 

A community seed bank is special place. At its most basic, it's a place to store the seeds that put food on each family's table, not just once, but year after year. 

But more than a safe haven for seeds, a community seed bank is also a community hub. A place where locals gather to exchange seeds, learn from each other, and find a back-up plan when a growing season isn't going well. A space for training sessions and seed fairs. And a conservation zone, saving rare crops by keeping them safe and in use. 

A community seed bank is the foundation of food security. It's a place to celebrate and rebuild a vibrant local food culture. 

For people like Alianca Bui, Mateus Soares and their two children (pictured below) this means more than just food. It means regaining something lost.


Rebuilding a local food system

Timor Leste emerged from its decade-long independance war just 20 years ago. Since then, we've been teaming up with farmers like Alianca and Mateus. Their accomplishments so far have been inspiring. Communities restored their degraded hillsides. They put in place essential water conservation measures. They brought back sustainable farming practices that had to be put aside during the country's occupation.

Now, these farmers tell us they're ready for the next step: their own community seed bank. All they need is your support to get it going!

To build this community seed bank, we need to raise $10,000.00. That is enough to:

  • Retrofit an existing building into a functional seed bank.
  • Outfit it with racks and storage.
  • Set up a demonstration garden and supply the equipment to tend it.
  • Train 10 people responsible for managing the facility and training local farmers in seed saving, seed storage, and ecological farming techniques.
  • Cover the costs of organizing three annual seed fairs where the community gathers together to replenish the seed bank and learn from each other.  

Donate now

Share the gift of plentiful, local food with a community eager to grow it. 

Big or small, your gift will make a tangible contribution:

  • $10.00 gets 10 jars to store seeds in
  • $30.00 covers seed bank access and support for one farming family
  • $50.00 builds a compost pit for the community garden where seeds are put to the test
  • $100.00 trains one farmer in seed saving and banking so they can take a leadership role in managing their community's seed bank

Give before 11:59 PM, November 28th, and your gift will be matched by a private donor! 


Benjamin Soares (above) was recently elected to the leadership of his village in Timor Leste. Through USC Canada, he was able to receive training and experience in managing a community seed bank. Since then, his support for sustainable agriculture has grown, and he's become a resource for his neighbours on seed saving and growing practices that allow for better adaptation to a changing, unpredictable climate.

Each seed bank needs a team of 10 administrators. For a donation of $100.00, you can cover the cost of training one person like Benjamin in the skills essential to run a seed bank.

Donate now


Tomas Pinto is the chief of his village and a member of the seed bank committee in his community. He's already taken advantage of valuable training in seed collection and storage, and access to tailored advice from the farming advisors who manage the seed bank. When his last crop of maize failed to grow due to drought, he was also able to quickly access a free supply of a different, quick growing variety that gave him a second chance at a good harvest. 

Now in his role as village chief, Tomas encourages others to use the seed bank to its fullest potential. 

For a donation of $30.00, you give seed bank access to one family, so that like Tomas and his family, they can get seeds and support when they need it most.


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We’re called USC Canada because we started out way back in 1945 as the Unitarian Service Committee, founded by the energetic Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova. We’re still planting the seeds that Lotta sowed. Find out more about our founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova.



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