The Seed Bank
for Iowa State University
“Save all the pieces.”
400 miles above the Artic Circle in Norway, bored into the side of glacial mountain, is the “Doomsday” Vault—a cavernous ice box housing many of the world’s most important seeds. The Svalbard Seed Bank is a repository of last resort—a place you only go if catastrophe has destroyed all the crops in a region of the world.
But Svalbard is not the only seed bank. In fact, in the US alone, there are dozens of banks preserving the seeds of thousands of plant species, from apple trees, to tomatoes, to oaks, to ferns, to mustard. Basically, every crop of economic or cultural value it meticulously preserved, catalogued, and monitored in a complex series of seed banks.
Iowa State University, which operates one of these seed banks for the US Department of Agriculture, asked Pierce Mill to create a film about seed banking and the dedicated seed scientists, gardeners, and plant lovers that work daily to maintain our supply of seeds. The story that captured our imagination—the Doomsday Vault—grew even more interesting the further we investigated.
The journey to make this film took us all over the country, including to the US Seed Reserve in Ft. Collins, Colorado—a Ft. Knox-esque facility so secure that a Mac truck falling out of the sky wouldn’t dent the building.
In the end, we developed a deep reverence for the power of seeds and profound appreciation for the work that so many do to preserve them.