Seeds do not belong in the garbage bin or on the compost heap (Willem)

Thanks to Diane EROS of CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company) I was interviewed on my “Seeds for Food” action.  This interview was programmed on Thursday May 7, 2008.

Seemingly, it got the attention and appreciation of a high number of people.  Some reacted promptly by sending me an email.  Here are a few  of them :

* Beverly Browne

Hello Dr. Van Cotthem,

Congratulations on the good work you are doing with your seeds program. I will begin to save my seeds to send to you. What would  be needed for you to consider repeating this in Zambia, also?  My husband and I are involved in a community development program in remote villages, working with a church. We provide some children with HEPS (high energy protein) once a week, and sponsor some others so they can go to school. We’re just beginning to construct a clinic and library. Adding the garden program would be wonderful, although we would have to overcome the possibility of animals (elephants) dismantling the garden. Your response would be much appreciated.

Beverly Browne
Trade Network Systems (TNS) Intnl.
PO Box 456
Pickering, ON. Canada  L1V 2R7

* Mona Andrée Rainville

Hello Dr. Van Cotthem,

I heard your interview, this week, on CBC where you explain what you are
doing in Africa and how anyone can help by sending you seeds. The idea is brilliant!  I have taken the liberty of sharing this information with the recycling group I belong to, Freecycle-Montreal, and got an overwhelmingly positive response.  Someone has volunteered to be the drop-off point in Montreal and will be mailing you an envelope once a month. Is there specific seeds you need more than others, seeds you don’t want at all, or guidelines you think we should follow for the mailing.  If so, please let me know and I will pass it along to our group. Thank you again for giving us the opportunity to share.

Mona Andrée Rainville
15 McLaughlin
Lachine, (Montréal), Québec H8S 2P7

* Tema Frank

Just heard about your seeds for food project – great idea!! My daughter has decided to get her friends to contribute as part of a volunteer project. We just wanted to check on what kinds of seeds work, other than melons and pumpkins. I’m assuming that apples wouldn’t grow. What about oranges?

Tema Frank <;

* Bhaskar T Hankey

Good morning sir, last night I heard your interview with CBC in Canada and I was very impressed about your project. I have some land in western part of Gujarat near the city of Porbandar India and the land is dry .  I want to grow Oranges in this land I can grow limes but not sure about Oranges.  Can you please help in this regard.  I have seeds of custard apples which gives fruits all year around I got the original seeds from Egypt few years a go.  If you are interested I can send you these seeds.  The fruit is big in size and the crop is year around. Nice to email you.  Please stay in touch.  I do not mind to join your group as part of western India section.  Let me know if you are interested.  I am 61 years old retired person. I have some farm land in India.

* Patti Scott

Hello,  I am very interested in participating in your program, thanks to your recent interview on As It Happens, the CBC program. I have viewed the website, and fruits seem to be what you need most, but what about vegetables, such as kale, peas, beans, lettuce, etc.?  Also, do you accept commercial seeds if I would like to send some of them?

Patti Scott,
Vancouver Island, BC

* Sunny James

Dear Prof Dr. Willem Van Cotthem;

Heard your story yesterday on cbc, great news in a troubled world!!! If I can be of any assistance please let me know asap!!! I am a researcher and developer of SOLAR energy!!! Think SOLAR the sun is freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee every day and very HEALTHY too eh!!! vitamin ddddddddddddddddddddd!!!

Yours truly;

* Joan Chandler

Hello Professor,

I heard you on the CBC radio program here in Canada and was intrigued with your project. I want to help. These are the types of initiatives which I think can really empower people. Would purchased seeds be useful to you? Which are best?

Warm Regards,
Joan Chandler
C&C Software Solutions Inc.

* Caroline

Good morning,

Could you please send me a list of the seeds that you need/would like.  I tried looking on the website and all I could fine was a short list in the introductory letter.  Is that all the type of seeds that you take or are there more?? It can be in French or English, I read both.

Thank you,

Montreal, Québec, Canada

* Christine McCarthy

Hello Dr. Van Cotthem,

I hear your story on CBC radio last night and am interested in participating in your FABULOUS project.  Please tell me you are still accepting seeds.  If so are there any seeds that you would not want to have. Unfortunately being in Canada we don’t have too many tropical species, but as summer is upon us I’m sure to be buying lots of them from the supermarket. Congratulations on such a great project, so simple and so effective.

Keep up the good work!
All the best,


Christine McCarthy, MSc.FS
Forensic Scientist, Chemistry Section
Centre of Forensic Sciences
25 Grosvenor Street, Toronto, ON  M7A 2G8

* Linda and Ed Farkas

Dear Dr. Van Cotthem,

I heard about your “Seeds For Food” programme on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio programme, “As It Happens.”  This was a very fascinating and worthwhile story which you described. Just this past weekend, here in Iowa City, Iowa, USA, my wife and I attended a forum on Backyard Gardening.  Of course, I thought of this program when I heard your story.  If you would contact the “Seed Savers Exchange” directly, you might be able to obtain some free seeds for your ventures in Africa and elsewhere! The main objective of the Seed Savers Exchange is to preserve America’s garden heritage.  They are also conducting this in Canada.  This would be another wonderful way to perserve Mother Earth’s endangered species and feeding people around the world!!! Here is the Seed Savers Exchange contact information, Heritage Farms location:

Website: <;
Location:  Seed Savers Exchange, 3094 North Winn Road, Decorah, Iowa, 52101 USA

By the way, my wife and I love the city of Ghent and Belgium as a whole!    We have been in Ghent two times and Brugge at least three times!!!  We wish you the best of luck in your endevour!


Linda and Ed Farkas

* Laura Hornby

Hi Everyone,

We recently heard about a great initiative called “Seeds for Food”.  It all started when an individual named Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM was invited by UNICEF Algeria as an advisor for the project “family gardens” and “school gardens” in the Saharawi refugee camps in South-East Algeria. At the camps he was told by the people that he worked with that the seeds needed to plant these gardens were very expensive. Upon returning home to Belgium, he decided to keep all the seeds from the tropical fruits and vegetables that he and his family were eating and invited his friends and neighbours to do the same. When he returned to the refugee camps he brought all the seeds he had collected and helped to start many gardens. His story can be found at <; . We have decided to follow his example and collect, rinse and air dry seeds from specific fruits and vegetables (melons, watermelons, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, papayas and eggplants) and send them to the address he has provided. We also would like to share this great idea with you and hope you can help too. On a regular basis, seeds from the above mentioned fruits and vegetables can be rinsed off and left to dry and then placed in a labelled envelope. The seeds can be brought to our house (252 Markham Place, Beaconsfield) and we will collect and mail them out.

This wonderful idea has already helped many families. With your help we do even more!!

Thank you so much!

Gilles, Laura, Jacob, Sam and Aaron

* Susan Walker


I just heard you on CBC radio here in Canada tonight.  I was thinking I could get the students at the school where I teach to save their seeds.  Where do we send them?  I do not see an address on your website.

Susan Walker
Windsor, Ontario

* Janice Blain

Hello Willem,

I heard your interview in CBC radio this evening and went to your website which I then sent to all my friends asking them to send seeds.  However, I cannot locate the address you want the seeds sent to and I guess they will have the same question. Please advise of address in Belgium where seeds are to be sent. Thank you, and congratulations on such a simple yet successful project.

Janice Blain

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.