The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library

The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library was founded in 2014 and works to find and preserve ancient seed varieties and traditional farming practices. It works to preserve the area’s rare and precious seed varieties, and other aspects of the farming culture, before it is too late.

Vivien Sansour is the founder of The Palestine Heirloom Seed Library’ and the Traveling Kitchen project. Both initiatives aim to bring Palestinian seed heritage back to the dinner table.

The Library and associated El Beir Arts and Seeds symbolise the core belief that agriculture is truly comprised of both agri” (traditional farming practices) and culture” (the associated lifestyle/​livelihood traditions essential to a community’s identity).

Vivien Sansour has spent the last five years searching for heirloom varieties to save and propagate not just as seed but as cultural stories as well. At the beginning of 2018, she launched a seed revival project to engage farmers in conservation, propagation, and dissemination activities that might result in the reintroduction of these varieties to the dinner tables. As a catalyst to bring the conversation forward, she also created the Traveling Kitchen, which comes apart and fits in her car where she has journeyed across the country to engage community members to become active in cultural preservation through food choices. Her work with seeds has been a vessel to bring forth a communal discussion about bio-culture and its role in autonomy.

Vivien was born in Palestine and grew up in Bethlehem. She does not live in one particular place as her work takes her to different communities around the world – from Palestine, California, North Carolina, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Hudson Valley.