Nativity Seeds' mission is to "Identify, conserve and promote Israel’s endangered native plant species for future generations by collecting, growing and distributing historical Holy Land heirloom seeds and plants".
Our Mission Statement:
Nativity Seeds is an organization that believes in the importance of preserving our cultural heritage through seeds.
At Nativity Seeds our objective is to identify, conserve and promote heirloom seeds that are native to the Holy Land. Those fruits, flowers and vegetables which are considered to be rare and endangered to the region of the Middle East are available for worldwide sales; in order to promote the cultural heritage related to the biblical land of Israel. We are supported by our members who collect, grow and save these precious seeds. Learn more on how to be a Seed Saver.
Nativity SeedsPreservation of Holy Land Heirloom Seeds
Our vision is to save and distribute rare heirloom seeds in Israel and the Middle East that form a living legacy to be cultivated for future generations. Nativity Seeds offers an alternative model for intensive modern agriculture. Through our work we are increasing the genetic pool of agricultural food products.
Nativity Seeds Bank follows 3 main goals:
- Conserving and promoting agricultural heritage of The Holy Land and its people.
- Developing a stable stock of heirloom seeds available to future generations.
- Making all seeds available to the farming and gardening community.
Nativity Seeds aims to build a collection of seeds, which will comprise the entirety of heirloom seeds that are associated with Israel and its peoples.
For this endeavor the seed bank will include:
- First heirloom seed bank in Israel.
- Conservation of thousands of species of edible plants in the form of seeds.
- Documenting cultural information about the history of the varieties.
- Distribution of heirloom seeds between members and the general public.
- Preserving backups at the Ministry of Agriculture Genbank.
- Saving seeds that have been grown in this land in the near and distant past that are native to the wider Middle East.
What are Heirloom Seeds?
Heirloom seeds are open pollinated crops with a history and a story passing throughout generations, like heirloom jewelry or furniture. Open pollinated seeds retain the characteristics of their parent plants and thus allow gardeners and farmers to conserve their own seeds.
Varieties of heirloom seeds were grown worldwide in diversified growth conditions. Over thousands of years plants were selected by farmers for their suitability based on the conditions surrounding them. The results made the plants resistant to drought, pests, diseases and extreme weather. Plants were also selected for their improved aesthetics, such as taste and size. Humans bred open pollinated varieties throughout our agricultural history. Seeds were transferred from generation to generation throughout the world, making for a wide range of varieties that are the link to our cultural heritage.
In recent decades heirloom seeds have been decimated due to the development of modern commercial agriculture. Modern agriculture prefers specific properties suitable for commercial mass production, resulting in many varieties which have been neglected and driven to extinction. If a plant variety is not grown for a few seasons, and the seeds are not germinated, the genetics of the plant becomes extinct and lost forever. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) revealed that 75% of the agricultural genetic diversity has gone extinct during the 20th century. It is estimated that over 90% of the world’s heritage seeds have vanished.
Today, a wide range of varieties are collected and stored in seed banks worldwide. The seed banks are the link to our heritage and ensure that we do not lose these varieties forever.
Harel Weiss - Founder of Nativity Seeds
Harel was born in Jerusalem, Israel. Having a multi-cultural upbringing and traveled the world extensively has lead him to experience a sense of how interrelated and interdependent we all are, and that maintaining the world’s spiritual and cultural heritage of natural awareness faces many challenges. The impact of poverty and unsustainable development in different parts of the world inspired Harel to become environmentally active and gain a better understanding of nature’s complexity.
- MSc in Environmental Sustainability in the Volcanic Institute GenBank: Bar-Ilan University
- Majored in Environmental Science at Tel-Hai Academic College, Israel. While studying he worked as coordinator for the Green Movement in Tel Hai College.
- Seed Savers Exchange (Decorah, Iowa) - Internship
Spent several months rotating through different departments of the non-profit organization, learning about cultural heritage and how to preserve heirloom seeds.