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Seed Savers Exchange's Executive Director has just returned from a trip to the Global Seed Vault

Posted: Mon, Mar 5, 2018 2:57 PM
Seed Savers Exchange Executive Lee Buttala inside the Seed Vault

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened in 2008 on an icy mountain located just 800 miles from the North Pole.  Since then it has become home to over one million seed samples, including more than 3,500 from Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah.

Seed Savers Executive Director Lee Buttala has just returned to Decorah from a 10th anniversary celebration last week at the Seed Vault.  As part of the observance, he carried Seed Savers Exchange seed samples into the Global Seed Vault.  Seeing all the donations was "a moving experience," he tells

Norway has announced it will spend $13 million for upgrades to the seed vault, which had some flooding in 2017.  Buttala says the seed vault was built to handle water, however, and the seed collections were never under any threat. 

Svalbard contains the most diverse collection of seeds in the world, stored in vacuum-packed test tubes or silver packets.  The seed vault has been built to withstand the test of time, including natural or man-made disasters.

Buttala says during his trip into the vault he was thinking more positive thoughts, however.  "There are causes that can bring us together," he notes, saying Svalbard is a testament "that people can come together...can work in unison."

He says the trip to Svalbard also made him think about Seed Savers Exchange and the Decorah area.  Seed Savers is the only or one of a very few non-governmental organizations to contribute seeds to the seed vault. He says that should be a source of pride for Seed Savers and for Decorah.  "I felt really excited and good (about representing Seed Savers and Decorah)."

Outside the Seed Vault
The exterior of the Seed Vault