Seed Storage Innovation for Farms

As we farm, we continue to build up a diverse seed inventory. We source our seeds from several reputable companies including Johnny's Seeds, Hudson Valley Seed Company, Eden Brothers, Seed Savers and New Sprout Farms.  It is important to source seeds from produce that is growing in your regional area as much as possible.  We are in Long Island, New York.  Sourcing seeds from plants that thrive in California is not ideal because they will most likely not thrive here. Our climate is very different than California and may not provide the ideal conditions for that plant to thrive and produce.

As we began to purchase more seeds, we never really thought about how to store them. Seed storage at the farm became a bit of a challenge for a bunch of reasons.

Seed Storage Requirements

Effective seed storage for farms needs to:

  1. Allow you to see the full inventory.
  2. Allow easy access to your seeds.
  3. Keep the seeds dry.
  4. Keep the seeds in a cool place where the temperature does not significantly increase or decrease.
  5. Keep the seeds protected from any elements or animals.
  6. Have the ability to be mobile.

In the past we stored our seeds in plastic containers that were marked with different plant categories.  Although the plastic containers fulfilled four out of the six categories above, they did not allow us to view our full inventory and did not allow us easy access to the seeds.

Traditional Library Card Catalog Poses as a Seed Cabinet

I researched seed storage for farms and gardens to identify options.  However, even after googling for several hours, I could not find any real solutions that met all of the criteria outlined above.  I was envisioning an old library card catalog as a possible solution.  The drawers are small enough, there are a lot of them, they provide protection, and they can be marked and easily identified. However, the traditional card catalog furniture is significantly expensive, heavy, and difficult to find! The next best alternative was a more cost effective look alike!

I researched hardware storage options which aligned with most of the criteria However, many hardware cabinets are heavy, expensive and provided no portability. I finally uncovered an inexpensive hardware cabinet solution that had 24 drawers. And then an idea popped into my head...

A Seed Storage Solution for 240 Seed Drawers

Jen and Pete design a seed storage cabinet

Peter has been with the farm since the very beginning.  He is our farm caretaker and is very innovative when it comes to building solutions for the farm.  I brought over 1 cabinet of 24 drawers and explained the goals of the project.  We created a structure on wheels that can hold 6 cabinets of 24 drawers each - a total of 144 drawers for seeds.  In addition, the structure has room for at least 4 more cabinets of 24 drawers on the back.  Therefore, it can support 240 seed drawers total!  And on the bottom of the cabinet, we built in a crate to hold any larger seeds and seeding equipment.

The cabinet rolls, and, more importantly, each 24-drawer cabinet can come on and off the structure at any time.  Therefore, when we need all of the beet seeds we an just remove that cabinet and bring it to the hoop house or wherever it is needed.

We ended up sealing the back of each of the 24-drawer cabinets to ensure that no critters can access the seeds.  The drawers are not perfectly sealed on the front, but we keep many of our open seeds in sealed bags anyway. Between the bag and the drawer, the seeds are protected from any elements. The entire cabinet is also kept in Peter's basement which is cool and dry.

I am very proud of the innovation that takes place at our farm. Farming requires many diverse skills, trades and experience to manage through the many tasks and challenges that arise each day. We have a very effective and creative team who has demonstrated continued farm innovation including our new seed storage for farms.  Please share your farm and gardening innovations with us. We would love to share them with the farming community!