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Back to February 2016 Newsletter

Thanks for Your Response to the Membership Survey

Bob Wildfong

In October we invited our members and e-bulletin subscribers to participate in a survey to help guide Seeds of Diversity's plans for the future. Many thanks to everyone who responded. We learned a lot, and I'd like to share the highlights with you.


How important are the following as part of your membership?

We asked what you value as a member, and gave five elements for you to rank. Seeds of Diversity has been based on a membership structure for nearly thirty years. I often wonder whether our members want what we offer, so this question was designed to test that assumption.

Overwhelmingly, you told us that the Member Seed Directory is important to you, even after all these years, followed closely by Seed of Diversity magazine and our monthly e-bulletin. This response is really encouraging to the people who work hard to produce the Member Seed Directory, and I hope also to the members who offer their seeds to other members. We know the Directory is used less than it was in earlier years. A few decades ago it was one of the only places where people could get heritage seeds, but now there are so many more heritage seeds available at Seedy Saturdays. Knowing that so many of you feel the Member Seed Directory is an important part of your membership, we will redouble our efforts to make it easier to use, more accessible to a wider range of people, and we'll put more development into the online edition.


Which of the following would you like to see Seeds of Diversity focus on?

It's great to know what you like about Seeds of Diversity today, but it's more important to know what you want the organization to do in the future. We thought your answers to these two questions would be pretty similar – honestly, we expected that you would say you wanted more development of Seedy Saturdays, more seed saving resources, and more ways to connect with members. But you surprised us!

Sure, getting seeds is high in your priorities, which is why you're a member of Seeds of Diversity in the first place. What we did not expect was that your 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th priorities would be campaigning and policy analysis on seed and pollinator conservation. Seeds of Diversity has always stood for biodiversity conservation – that has always been our reason for existence - but since the early days of the organization we've tended to live out that ideal through grassroots activities, like community seed libraries, rather than engaging in campaigns.

I'm sure this response does not mean that anyone wants to leave behind our hands-on, action-based approach to food biodiversity conservation, but to me it does reflect a shift in how our membership views the issues. Our members have always cared about food policy issues, of course, but it does make sense that a new awareness of current concerns about seeds and pollinators is gaining traction and more people want someone to champion those causes, at the same time that we get our hands dirty in the soil saving seeds.


This was a fun experience, and a delight to receive such a tremendous response. Thanks again for helping us to understand you better, and your hopes for Seeds of Diversity. It's a privilege to work for such a dedicated group of people!


The member survey included 22 questions, too many to report on here. If you're interested in the details, we've posted the results at


Back to February 2016 Newsletter

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