Established in 1990 as an initiative of plant heirloom’s keepers, Arche Noah is the central Austrian association for the preservation of crop diversity and its development.
Arche Noah responds to the loss of agro-biodiversity thanks to the commitment of 13.000 members, primarily promoting the cultivation of threatened varieties gardens, raising consumer awareness and strengthening political commitment.
Arche Noah’s first mission is to safeguard endangered crops and to make them available for farmers, amateur gardeners and consumers.
The association manages an organic garden in a small village called Schiltern, near the city of Krems, where are organically cultivated hundreds of rare and endangered plants.
Arche Noah is also committed to the development of sustainable farming and food systems, cooperating with organic farmers to bring back diversity to agriculture and within markets. It has developed many collaborations all over the years, with national organic institutions, organic tree nurseries, plant breeders, national and regional farming networks...
Since its creation, Arche Noah has been involved in a great number of campaigns, advocating for the improvement of the overall social framework for securing crop diversity and its sustainable use, at national and European scales. Arche Noah’s purpose is to raise awareness among producers, consumers as well as political and economic leaders.
Arche Noah detains one of the biggest private collections of cultivated plants in Europe, which is stored and preserved in a seed bank at Schiltern. Experts in fruit and vegetable conservation take care of the seed bank, regularly regenerating it by researching, documenting, advising, and grafting the varieties, to ensure crop preservation.
Arche Noah’s contribution to seed saving is possible thanks to the commitment of its many members. Hundreds of them act as private “seed savers”, cultivating and multiplying in their gardens, Arche Noah's heirloom varieties of seeds, or plants they have collected themselves.
Some of these crop guardians save seeds for their own personal use, while other cooperate with the seed bank, providing seeds to other members and regularly meeting to exchange varieties.
Seeds are exchanged by means of the Seeds-Handbook, available to members only, and in which is listed all varieties kept that can be passed on from one garden to another. The association annually organizes meetings and seed swaps to facilitate experience and social sharing.
Arche Noah’s seed collection currently holds about 5.500 accessions of rare plant varieties.
The Arche Noah fruit collection currently encompasses several fruit conservation orchards with hundreds of trees and berry bushes from all over Austria, as well as a fruit database with more than 900 varieties on 3,200 mapped trees.
Part of Arche Noah fruits collection is kept in its organic garden, but most of them have been “adopted” by members and are preserved in different private orchards.
Arche Noah also manages a collection of more than 200 rare potato varieties, with the help of farmers from the “Waldviertel” region.
The head manager of the Arche Noah’s seed bank is Michaela Arndorfer. You can contact her for more information.
To facilitate the propagation of its material, Arche Noah regularly participates to fairs all over Austria, between March and May.
Except on these fairs' occasions, the access to Arche Noah's seed collection is for members only. Products can be purchased through the association’s online shop. Organic seedlings are sent by post from January to April, in Austria and Germany.
- Full member: € 55 / year;
- Discount for pensioners, students up to 30 years and unemployed (proof requested): € 35 / year;
- Supporting member: from € 100 / year.
- Free entry to the Arche Noah garden;
- Reduced participation to many Arche Noah educational activities;
- Online access to Arche Noah seed varieties catalogue;
- Access to Arche Noah network catalog with insights into the work of the maintainers and their favorite varieties;
- 3 times a year the Arche Noah magazine;
- Discounts at the Arche Noah shops in Schiltern and Vienna as well as in the online shop;
- Regular information (on crop diversity & activities) via electronic newsletter: approx. once a month;
- Participation in exclusive member activities (members active days);
- Free designation of old fruit types.
If you live in Austria and want to discover the association before getting involved, you can go visiting the gardens anytime during the opening season, from April to October, as well as participate to its events in order to meet seed savers and enjoy their work.