Anna Stange has been saving seeds for nearly 30 years and is still excited about learning more! Anna is the all-around garden volunteer in her current hometown of Blue Island, Illinois. With the help of Seed Savers Exchange’s Community Seed Resource Program, she started an annual seed exchange in partnership with the library, park district and local Ag extension service, which led to starting a local seed library. Anna is currently in the process of mentoring community members to take her place caring for the seed library and a local community garden as she readies for a move to Florida. Her favorite tomato is Luiggi, favorite bean is Midnight Missoula black turtle bean, and she is currently growing out an accidental, purple-podded, black pole bean. Her mission is to keep native, heirloom, and open-pollinated seed stocks in the public commons, where they belong.
You can find me nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Blairsville, Georgia where I work out of the Mountain Research & Education Center as University of Georgia Extension’s Community & School Garden Coordinator. I consider myself a seed saving enthusiast although my husband, who has to move jars of seeds in the refrigerator to get to the soda, may prefer the term eccentric. I enjoy teaching gardeners about all aspects of gardening including beneficial entomology (pollinators!), healthy soil, and seed/plant selection. My current project is the Great Georgia Pollinator Census. The integrity of bean seeds and their role in our North American heritage is a passion for me and I am starting to work with school gardeners to save and grow more seed types, incorporating appropriate geography and history lessons. I am excited to work with this group!
Ben Cohen is an author, herbalist, gardener, seed saver, and wanderer. He is also the founder of MI Seed Library, a community seed sharing initiative that has worked closely with a number of communities to help establish nearly seventy seed library programs across his home state and beyond. He spends his time outside of his gardens offering workshops and lectures across the country on the benefits of living closer to the land through seeds, herbs and locally grown food. Ben finds himself at home wherever his hands are in the soil, sowing the seeds of yesterday to reap the bountiful harvest of tomorrow.
Betsy most enjoys frolicking in nature, especially in the garden! Seed saving brings abundance, these efforts honor past generations and will help sustain the ones yet to come. Plus, every year, fallen seeds decide to grow, which adds so much artistic beauty and wonder to the practice of gardening. Betsy is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Administration and working as the Development Specialist for Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. Alongside a slew of movers and shakers, Betsy helped launch Common Soil Seed Library as well as Community Seed Network and has been active in non-commercial seed sharing policy changes in Nebraska and nationally.
Eva is a community organizer and avid seed steward currently based in Western Colorado. She oversees 15 community and school garden sites, coordinates volunteers, and hosts workshops and events with Valley Food Partnership. In her free time she enjoys rock climbing and making pottery.
Ibrahim Loeks is a life skills instructor including gardening, seed saving, permaculture, tracking, healing arts and eating wild & healthy foods. His personal journey of health and healing has led to a passion for hunting, farming and cooking, based on the local environment in which he resides. In 2020 he established a community seed cooperative which has been able to gift thousands of seed packets and plant starts, helping nearly that many people embark on the journey of saving their first seeds. He is also a founding member of a coalition of organizations building community farms on public lands. Ibrahim seeks to embody restorative practices. For him this looks like ancestral survival skills in one hand, a soil biology microscope in the other and a pocket full of seeds. He shares these practices by mentoring children, families and communities in reconnecting to the natural world.
You can connect with Ibrahim on Instagram @HumanPatterning
Jeanine Scheffert, Co-Chair
Jeanine is Education and Engagement Manager at Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. She is honored to be co-chair of the Community Seed Network. She has enjoyed the collaborative work of designing and implementing the CSN website, and is deeply inspired to be in a position serving the important work community seed people are doing across the US and Canada.
Since saving her first seeds, striped cavern tomatoes, Jill Bishop has been an avid seed saver. She believes seed security is key to food security, and works to build stronger local seed saving networks, teach seed saving skills, and inspire confidence in others to get growing and saving heirloom seeds. After growing seeds for her business, Urban Tomato, on borrowed land for over a decade, she now happily grows and saves seeds on her urban seed farm in Peterborough, Ontario.
Keith Monahan is an award-winning sustainability advocate. His work focuses on the regeneration and interconnection of green spaces such as private and community gardens, parks, and urban spaces with the people who need access to those spaces. He is a certified Master Gardener educator with a focus on seed saving and insect habitats. As co-founder of the South Jersey Seed Circle Library, he helped initiate a “Plant One for the Pollinators” program that freely distributes and encourages homeowners to plant flower seeds beneficial for pollinating insects. As a complement to the pollinator program, Keith also assists community groups in the design and construction of invertebrate habitats by installing invertebrate hotels and plants appropriate for that space.
Steph Hughes, Co-Chair
Steph works with SeedChange as the Regional Coordinator for The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security in Atlantic Canada. As part of this work, she administers a regional seed bank in Nova Scotia, runs training and networking activities for farmers and seed growers, and supports a vibrant network of local seed libraries and community organizers. She is honoured to be in a position to amplify and support the work of the community seed movement through the CSN.