The Seed Network

The Seed Network

Hundreds of members of ARCHE NOAH act as private “seed savers” by cultivating endangered varieties in their home gardens and taking permanent care of them. They provide seeds to other seed savers, and study and develop their varieties carefully.

Diversity's Guardians

All cucumber varieties brought together in one place, from Armenian cucumbers to Znojmo cucumbers? That’s not enough for us. ARCHE NOAH also works towards decentralised preservation of rare crops.

ARCHE NOAH works closely with crop guardians. These are members of the association who multiply heirloom varieties from the ARCHE NOAH seed archive, as well as plants they have “gathered” in their local area, in their home gardens or fields. The reason for cultivating heirloom varieties is usually idealistic – “so that diversity is not lost”. However, motives can also include political commitment to food sovereignty, enjoyment, enthusiasm for diversity, and passion for collecting.

The gardeners themselves determine their own level of involvement – beginner, crop guardian, or crop-adopters. Some only save seeds for their own personal use while others cooperate with the seed archive, or offer their expertise in the variety handbook. A network of active gardeners thus ensures that diversity is preserved through cultivation.


The "Seeds-Handbook"

Seeds are exchanged by means of the Seeds-Handbook - just like in former times, exchanging across the garden fence. Every year there are meetings and seed swaps during which the ARCHE NOAH seed savers can meet each other personally.

Austrian local varieties are back in our gardens: Joining the ARCHE NOAH project “6 for 100”, more than 80 gardeners and farmers all over Austria “adopted” local varieties from the ARCHE NOAH Seed Bank. Within 3 years, all varieties are to find new homes with 6 cultivators at a time.


On Farms

Farmers for diversity: ARCHE NOAH cooperates with organic farmers to bring back diversity to agriculture and in our markets. Important partners are also Bio Austria, the Austrian Organic Farmers network, and the Slow Food movement. You can find a list of organic farmers (direct suppliers) offering products made from old varieties on our homepage


A Wide Network

ARCHE NOAH works together with organic tree nurseries, market gardens and plant breeders. The cooperation with other institutions goes far beyond the Austrian border. ARCHE NOAH is member of the Interessengemeinschaft für gentechnikfreie Saatgutarbeit, Bio Austria, Agrarbündnis Österreich, Ökobüro, Arge Streuobst, Network of Austrian Botanical Gardens, Verein Kamptalgärten, The Gardens of Lower Austria und partner of Aktion Natur im Garten. See the links here.


Research & Breeding

Plants do change. In addition to preserving rare crops and heirloom varieties, ARCHE NOAH wants to contribute to the development of diversity.

In order to ensure the long-term survival of crops, the adaptation of plants is also necessary. We can only achieve our goal – preservation through use – if these old varieties are again cultivated, produced and used in our gardens and on our farms.

So you’d like to grow a tomato variety from the previous century? A heirloom variety might not be entirely suitable for today’s growing conditions (climate, soil, various diseases) or users’ demands (such as taste). In order to enhance such heirloom crops, ARCHE NOAH is dedicated to participatory breeding activities: selection, user-oriented description, and close collaboration with gardeners and farmers contribute to the development of suitable and marketable crops.