Saving Seeds, saving our Future – Vanastree


Vanastree is a self-generated seed-saving cooperative located in the heart of the Western Ghats mountain range in southern India. Its main objectives include promoting food security and bio-diversity through sustainable farms and home gardens, and empowering its members through networking and outreach.

The word “Vanastree” literally means women of the forest in Kannada, underscoring the organization’s goals of empowering women and promoting ecosystem health. By working to preserve seeds and cultivate bio-diverse gardens that mirror forest ecosystems, Vanastree participants help to preserve traditional food systems and uphold local plant knowledge, while also generating healthy products to sell to market. These sales also help participants to earn supplemental income.

Vanastree emphasizes the traditional role of women in conservation and empowers them to make a difference. Through meetings, trainings, festivals, and other networking events, Vanastree brings women and local community members together to share knowledge and promote healthy, environmentally-friendly farming and gardening practices.



Future Plans

Vanastree continues to network within the region, while simultaneously reaching out to other communities to share knowledge and best-practices. Its founders hope to continue supporting home gardeners through workshops and trainings, and to continue to hosting festivals and other community education events.

The organization is currently seeking: organic and open-pollinated seeds, volunteers and interns, a space for an office, nursery, garden and extension outlet.

“Since saving seeds for the seed bank, I have realized what an important activity this is which was not the case before. I visited my mother’s home this weekend and was horrified to see that out of 8 beautiful bottle gourds they grew and dried, they saved seeds from one, and threw the rest into the fire. I nearly cried and scolded them so much. Imagine how fare and wide those destroyed seeds could have traveled, and the food and sustenance they had the potential to provide” – Vidya, Sirsi 2011

Vanastree is:

  • A women-run seed saving collective in the Malnad region of the Western Ghats in Southern India
  • Dedicated to sustaining biodiversity in forest home gardens and the unique lifestyle and culture of the region
  • Involved in the documentation of traditional practices and wisdom—while integrating contemporary information
  • A critical force for initiating empowerment and the socio-economic security of its members
  • A facilitator for the production of quality organic seeds and products
  • A provider of experiential learning programmes rooted in community and agroecology


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