In Seeds We Trust
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Photograph courtesy of Peter Vermeij/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Cary Fowler/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Mari Tefre/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Cary Fowler/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Photograph courtesy of Peter Vermeij/Global Crop Diversity Trust | Image Permalink

Home Country

The village of Longyearbyen, Norway, one of the world's northernmost towns, plays host to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.

Land of Snow and Ice

The Svalbard archipelago, which lies between 74 and 81 degrees of latitude, is covered with glaciers.

The Big Dig

The Global Crop Diversity Trust broke ground on the vault's construction in 2007.

The Vault by Night

With the temporary structures (left) from the project's construction phase now gone, the vault's entrance (right) is all that marks the massive underground complex.

The Vault by Day

The entrance—a concrete prow rising from the ice—has become an icon of seed preservation. A pit located below the walkway leading to the entrance gathers snow, keeping the entrance free of drifts.

Opening Ceremony

At the February 2008 opening ceremony, which took place during the five-month arctic night, an ice sculpture of a polar bear presided over the events.

Defensive Architecture

Workers walk up the 93-meter entrance tunnel, which ends in a concave wall; should anyone fire a bomb into the seed vault, the force will be channeled back out at the attacker.

Special Delivery

Seeds arriving from CIAT, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Several times a year, cargo planes land on the tiny nearby airstrip on Spitsbergen Island carrying new contributions from more than 1,500 seed gene banks. The vault currently has samples from a third of the world's most important food crop varieties.

The Man Himself

Cary Fowler, head of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, in the vault.

Simple Digs

Inside, the vault contains three spare rooms coated in sprayed concrete, each capable of holding 1.5 million seed samples.

A Dark and Stormy Night

The vault is in polar night from October through February every year.

Local Life

Reindeer gallop along the fjords surrounding the islands.

Svalbard's Own

Many species of wildflowers take advantage of the five months of midnight sun in Svalbard.

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