The Chicago Seed Archive

Nance Klehm does work in the area of land politics and land fertility.  She is an ecological systems designer, landscaper, horticultural consultant, and permacultural grower, speaker, and teacher

One of her ongoing projects is the public seed archive based in Chicago, which started in 1993.   The seed archive allows anyone to borrow seeds to grow plants, as long as you send back double what you receive. The seed archive  library includes many medicinal, herbal, and food varieties.

The seeds are carefully stored, and Klehm’s interest especially in seed that is for food or medicinals, habitat creating as well as soil building. The archive only accepts, stores and loans viable, well-identified seeds.  Some of the seeds come from older heirloom varieties that have been grown and handed down for centuries.  Over the years her personal collection has grown into a cataloged library of over 350 varieties of seeds, with a focus on foods of the Americas with many  corn, beans, squash seeds.

There is a searchable database that you can review, and anyone can ask for seeds as long as you give back twice as much.   Occasionally there is a  ‘swap n’ store’ event, which is a event where individuals come together to share stories, process seed, ask questions, share stories and food, swap seeds and donate seeds to the archive.   The ‘swap n’ share’ happens 4 times a year.

Interested in getting involved in the seed archive?  You can send an e-mail to to get more information.  Klehm’s workshops are listed on her site which is located at

Image Source:


Links: – Nancy Klehm’s website

Article about the Seed Archive –





Leave a Reply