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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 23, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 26Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

The miracle of seeds
Deseret News 22Apr00 N1
By Carma Wadley: Deseret News senior writer

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- While biologists and gardeners may already consider seed a miracle, that's not what the Deseret News' Wadley is calling a miracle. She writes about a miracle experienced by LDS Church members and LDS Humanitarian service workers that is blessing the lives of thousands in remote parts of the globe.

The story of this miracle starts with LDS Church member Helen Larsen, who re-entered the workforce in March 1997 after 27 years of raising her family. Larsen joined Garden Grow Co., distributor of the Lilly Miller line of seeds, and was assigned to make sure that seed displays in retail stores were well stocked.

Larsen soon discovered that seeds that didn't sell at the end of the season were sent back to the producer. After working at Garden Grow for three months, Larsen was sitting in an LDS Church meeting when she was struck by the impression that the LDS Church needed her leftover seeds. At that time the Church hadn't made any request for seeds and wasn't distributing seeds.

She called the LDS Church, and was able to leave a message for Garry Flake, director of humanitarian service for the Church. Flake was in North Korea at the time, where he was approaching government leaders in the starving nation, asking how the Church could assist.

Flake was told that the one thing that North Korea could use most was seeds. On his return trip, Flake wondered where the Church could get seeds to assist North Korea. He returned to his office to find the answer waiting for him on his desk. Arrangements were quickly made, and five tons of seeds were sent to North Korea.

But Larsen's company liked the idea, and it didn't stop there, "The company decided it really liked this project, and it set up drop-off sites throughout the Western states to collect the old seeds," says Larsen. "The next year we had 20 tons."

The Church didn't stop either -- it soon discovered that there was a demand for seeds in other parts of the world also. Former Utah State University horticulturist Duane Hatch and his wife were asked in 1998 to coordinate the project, determining which seeds were best-suited for each country. Larsen's 20 tons of seeds went to about a dozen different countries.

In spite of changes at her company that made it look for a time like seeds wouldn't be available, the company still came though, this time with about 30 tons of seeds. And the Church has been processing those seeds to ship to several countries, "We need to get them out early, so they can be planted while it's still spring," says Hatch. "We've really been pushing."

Volunteers from the Valley View and Holladay North LDS stakes have been involved in sorting the seeds, packaging them into bags of 17 different kinds of seeds, one bag for each recipient family. And the seeds include three packets of flowers as well as vegetables, "The vegetables feed the body, but the flowers feed the soul," says Larsen. "They're a luxury many of these families don't have."

Larsen says response to the project has been overwhelming, "It's been the neatest thing to see people come here to sort. They leave with a wonderful feeling, knowing that they are helping someone feed a family. We've had Eagle Scout projects and a lot of other youth come to help."

This year's seeds will go to the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Kenya and other African nations, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Thailand, Laos, North Korea and other places.

"It's just a tremendous humanitarian effort," says Hatch, who recently went to Mongolia with his wife to grow demonstration gardens. "We've had hundreds of people donate thousands of hours to do the sorting. We've pioneered some things." "We hope we're planting something for the future."

See also:

Mongolia sits at about the same latitude as North Dakota Deseret News 22Apr00 N1,1249,160009391,00.html By Carma Wadley: Deseret News senior writer

for an account of Duane and Rose Marie Hatch's trip to Mongolia to grow demonstration gardens.

[Note: Helen Larsen mentioned in this summary is not related to the summary's author, Kent Larsen]


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