Demeter Seed Project

The Demeter Seed Project of UC Santa Cruz is a student-run, non-profit organization of local famers and gardeners who believe in the importance of preserving the genetic heritage of our food. The library was founded in 2011 by Andrew Whitman with a $10,000 grant from the Strauss Foundation and support from Measure 43. It is currently run by students involved in UCSC's Food Systems Working Group (read more about the librarians, below).

Our mission is to preserve and breed locally adapted cultivars and seed varieties in California Central Coast. Our objective is to help gardeners and farmers access seeds and educate youth and community members about the importance of biodiversity in our agricultural systems. Additionally, we actively manage a web-based seed library social network, a national network to connect farmers and seed savers. Ultimately, our living seed library promotes the resiliency and autonomy of our local food system. We aim to demonstrate a society that is not reliant on large seed companies and multinational corporations that control the global food system.

We at the Demeter Seed Library conduct “grow-outs” to grow crop varieties to seed as well as work with local organic farms to grow seeds. We catalog seeds and distribute them to farmers and gardeners. We maintain a large inventory of seed by continually growing out the varieties that are older or have been greatly lent out. We encourage people who use our seeds to grow a portion of their crops through their lifecycle to bear seeds. 

We ENCOURAGE donations of both seed and/or money because we are always in need of both resources to increase our presence in the community. If you would like to donate seeds or money, send to:

CASFS (Demeter Seed Project)
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

If you donate seeds please include information about the year it was grown out, the variety of crop, and where it was grown out! The more info the merrier! Thank you!

If you have any questions about getting involved, about upcoming seed exchanges and other events, or about plant reproduction/seeds please email us at

Goals of the Demeter Seed Library

The Demeter Seed Library at UCSC thrives to service the Santa Cruz community by:

  1. Aiding backyard gardening projects with labor and seeds.
  2. Supplying information about urban gardening and seed saving to community members.
  3. Hosting events to teach about sustainable food systems especially involving the resilience and biological diversity of agriculture.
  4. Maintaining an inventory of heirloom seed varieties that prosper in Santa Cruz’s climate and are available to the public
  5. Distributing seeds freely to all!
  6. Connecting with other organizations for a more succinct transformation into a sustainable agricultural system

If you are not in Santa Cruz and are looking for a seed library near you visit the United States Seed Libraries directory

Meet the Librarians

Cole Thomas is a 4th year Environmental Studies and Economics major at UCSC. Cole has worked on a variety of farms in Santa Cruz County and started Mackay Organic and Sustainable Landscaping (MOSL) in his second year at UCSC. MOSL helped start edible gardens and maintain backyard orchards. Cole envisions a society that understands the importance of a resilient food system and envisions an agricultural system that relies on many small scale organic farms that grow many varieties of non-GMO crops.

Conner Spears is an avid permaculture designer who first got his hands dirty reviving a dead succulent given to him by his grandmother. From there, he has volunteered with the Los Angeles Arboretum, become a certified Permaculture designer, assisted the North East Los Angeles Transition movement in creating a 2000 square foot learning garden, and transformed many back and front yards into edible landscapes. As one of the seed librarians for the 2013-2014 year, he plans on bringing the fascination and awe he finds in seeds to his surrounding communities to help stress the importance of keeping the agricultural system as diverse as possible. He is currently studying Cognitive Science and History, and hopes to see massive education reform in the future.