Harnessing Grassroots Movement, Students Affect Direct Change

Children in Namibia enjoying carrots grown from donated seeds. Photo courtesy of Seeds for Peace. By Janine Kritschgau, '18, Features Editor

Seeds for Peace, a grassroots movement providing donated seeds to grow food for hungry families began almost two decades ago and, has undergone radical organizational change within the last ten months, largely due to Ana Lordkipanidze, ‘15, and Mustafa Chaudry, ‘14. Lordkipanidze and Chaudy created and submitted a business plan, that offered solutions to formalize the organization, to the Freirich Business Plan Competition, and took third place in the social entrepreneurship category.

Lordkipanidze and Chaudry developed the plan after about six months with the organization, and received a $2500 prize after the original prize of $1,500 was revised. “Mostly why we did it was for publicity,” Chaudry explains. The group hopes to raise awareness and gain recognition to attract more volunteers. With more people, “we can really, really make miracles happen.”

The organization relies on two types of donations, seeds that will not be used from farms, and monetary donations used to distribute seeds and pay for the organization’s other costs. Chaudry estimates that just $1 dollar buys 100 seeds, and will feed two to four families for a few months.

Today, Seeds for Peace has established 120 peace gardens, and countless partnerships with other gardens worldwide, including Skid Row in Los Angeles and the Capital District Community Garden in Troy, New York.

Although they now hold formal titles, Lordkipanidze as Director of Public Relations and Communications, and Chaudry as Director of Marketing, the two remember humbler beginnings. Seeds for Peace had only two employees when Lordkipanidze and Chaudry learned about the organization and were inspired to jump in. “It’s really a nice family atmosphere,” Chaudry says.

“You have to go out of your way…college is a bubble but you have to think of the real world,” Lordkipanidze reflects on the importance of ambition in entrepreneurship, not to mention networking. Lordkipanidze and Chaudry are currently working with Nino Tsintsadze, ‘14, to promote Seeds for Peace within the United Nations, where Tsintsadze is an intern . Because of this relationship, Seeds for Peace will soon be developing a short video that will be shown on UNTV.

Seeds for Peace is expanding on all fronts, including developing a stronger online presence to reach out to the public. The organization hopes to get involved in new areas, and develop Seed Libraries—institutions that provide seeds for local residents to grow food, and collect 10 percent of seeds from the subsequent harvest. Lordkipanidze will travel to her home country of Georgia this July to work towards the establishment of a library in the Pirosmani village. Efforts will specifically support single mothers and refugees of war in the area.

 

Visit Seeds for Peace’s website or Facebook page to learn more about volunteer and internship opportunities or to make a donation.

 

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