International, Foreign Affairs, and National Security


aka The Cleveland Seed Bank

Mentor, OH


Mission Statement:
The primary purpose of the Hummingbird Project is to create sustainable systems using permaculture principles that enhance and benefit communities by educating and empowering individuals to improve quality of life and foster stewardship of the earth.

Vision Statement:
The Hummingbird Project was inspired by the belief that a coalition of individuals, each working for positive change, can have a profound impact on the world. Founded in 2010, The Hummingbird Project works for social justice through ecological regeneration and community empowerment initiatives. We envision a world in which people, inspired by nature, create and maintain healthy and abundant livelihoods that enhance biodiversity and regenerate healthy ecosystems.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Marilyn McHugh

Co Principal Officer

Christopher Kennedy

Main Address

Colonial Building, Suite 200 8334 Mentor Ave

Mentor, OH 44060 USA


organic farming, soil, india, seed saving





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

International Relief (Q33)

Urban, Community (S31)

International Agricultural Development (Q31)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Social Media


Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

Add a problem overview to your profile.

Update now

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Living Soil Saves Lives

Cleveland Seed Bank

Where we workNew!

Add a map of your service areas to your profile.

Update now

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

We envision a world in which people, inspired by nature, create healthy and abundant livelihoods which enhance biodiversity and regenerate healthy ecosystems. The goal of The Hummingbird Project (THP) is to build capacity within communities, while simultaneously inspiring and supporting sustained positive change, by empowering individuals to creatively solve challenges using environmentally regenerative technologies.

The Hummingbird Project (THP) believes strongly in the power of collaboration and seeks partnership with individuals and organizations who share a common vision. We align ourselves with like-minded nonprofits, community groups and individuals in the interest of helping move all of our projects forward, in a collaborative rather than competitive environment. Our organization has partnered with several other organizations in an effort to form a collaborative network which reduces cost and amplifies the impact of our sustainability initiatives.

THP believes in organizational transparency and uses rigorous criteria when evaluating projects which align with our mission statement. Effectiveness, sustainability, reproducibility, empowerment and impact are at the core of our evaluation process. We seek to create projects which benefit all members of the community, especially women, children & under-served populations. Therefore, all members of the community are well represented in the management of projects. Additionally, all projects are managed in an accountable, transparent and democratic manner. We also build-in an element of redundancy to each project, so that one person or group is not solely responsible for the entire project.

Currently THP is working on several projects, both internationally and at home in Cleveland, OH.

The “Living Soil Saves Lives” project seeks to empower individuals and communities to be more self-reliant and regenerate the earth through organic farming methods. We provide training for rural farmers on the ‘soil food web’ and various composting techniques with the goal of assisting their transition back to natural, organic farming methods.

The “Biogas” project focuses on building, refurbishing and educating communities on the appropriate use of biogas digesters for cooking fuel. Biogas is a clean renewable source of cooking fuel that can be generated from leftover organic matter. Recently, THP completed a study of existing biogas plants and community perceptions and found that with minimal financial input and education, the potential exists to build and repair biogas digesters to dramatically impact the lives of poor, rural subsistence farmers.

The “Cleveland Seed Bank” project works to empower the local food producing community with educational activities, seed saving workshops, seed swaps and outreach to organize and maintain a seed bank to preserve the vital resource of local seed for our community.

The Hummingbird Project (THP), a nonprofit which focuses on cultivating a living soil, preserving & saving heirloom seeds, growing healthy food, capturing renewable energy and serving as an inspiration for how people can live in a mutually beneficial relationship with the Earth, was founded in 2011. THP is an innovative 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, made up of social entrepreneurs who are passionate about healing the planet and its people.

Around the world, farmers, women, indigenous peoples, environmentalists and others are joining together to build a movement for social justice. For the last 3 years, The Hummingbird Project has collaborated in India with Dr. Vandana Shiva and her organization Navdanya, assisting their farmer training programs with the goal of supporting farmers’ transition from chemical to organic farming. Dr. Shiva is the leader in the worldwide food justice movement to protect seed sovereignty and farmer’s rights. The Cleveland Seed Bank grew directly out of this collaboration with Navdanya. Regionally, The Cleveland Seed Bank collaborates with the Cleveland Public Library, Save Seeds Now, Community Food Initiatives and Slow Food Northern Ohio.

To successfully achieve our goals, we rely on our dedicated board members, staff, volunteers, committee members, and financial support from foundations and individual donors. THP has two full time and two part time staff, four board members (six positions, two open), and several committees. We are actively recruiting additional new leaders to join our organization.

The Hummingbird Project has also developed a Scientific Advisory Board consisting of leading soil scientists, botanists and alternative energy experts. This board ensures that the educational programming is scientifically accurate, on par with the latest research and provides technical support for our fieldwork.

The Hummingbird Project is currently assessing various metrics to drive program improvement and innovation with our projects, both in the US and abroad. We strive to develop meaningful program evaluations and develop a framework with an array of tools to measure progress across multiple scales. Through our work, we have continued to learn from our community partners and constituents, and refine our own thinking and procedures. Our programs are grounded in a set of principles that have emerged from our direct experiences, as well as the collective wisdom of others we have collaborated with in the field. As our programs grow, we'll turn to use well established nonprofit program evaluations to continually monitor our progress and to ensure we remain within the scope and intent of our mission and goals.

For example, while working with farmers in India, we developed a survey (which was translated into Hindi) and administered before and after our Farmer Training Program in an effort to assess the effectiveness & impact of our training program. We are currently working with Statistics Without Borders to help analyze all of the the farmer surveys, improve future survey design, program implementation & evaluation.

India/Southeast Asia
Since 2012, THP has trained over 2,500 Indian farmers on how to cultivate a living soil and transition to organic agriculture. We have given presentations on the ‘Living Soil’ to farmers, trainers, students and government officials in 6 different states across India. THP provided the supplies and training to establish 2 soil microbiology labs in India and 1 lab in Thailand, which continue to be a training resource for farmers.

Cleveland, OH
In the summer of 2013, we launched The Cleveland Seed Bank to create a local, resilient source of seeds by educating and empowering an alliance of community seed savers. We have since hosted over a dozen seed saving workshops, seed swaps and have launched a website that includes an online member’s area where local growers can upload and share, sell or swap seeds year-round. We have close to 200 members participating in the on-line seed exchange and have over 700 seed postings! We are implementing a Seed Steward program in 2014 to provide in-depth training on seed saving, cleaning, processing & storage to 12 individuals who promise to "steward" one variety of open-pollinated seed this year. We are also working with 10 community gardens around the city to provide training and be a seed saving resource to the garden members. We are actively looking to establish relationships with schools in the area to educate children on seed saving, growing healthy food and understanding where food comes from.

East Africa
THP has partnered with several NGOs in East Africa to promote sustainable farming, food production and regenerative land management in Nanyuki, Kenya, Masindi and Abim, Uganda. We have also partnered with Daraja Academy, a secondary school for disadvantaged Kenyan girls, to create a permaculture plan for the students, faculty & staff. The Daraja campus is located at the base of Mount Kenya, where the devastating effects of illegal logging and deforestation can be seen firsthand. The desertification in this region has caused changing rainfall patterns and drought, accelerating poverty among subsistence farmers.There is an immediate need to educate the local community about permaculture principles in order to make the local environment more ecologically regenerative. We installed a 5,000 Liter biogas digester at Daraja Academy in March 2014 which is capable of producing 2-3 cubic meters of biogas every day. Plans are underway to develop curriculum to help educate neighboring communities about the importance of environmental stewardship and implementation of renewable energy systems, such as biogas digesters. Developing self-reliance at the community level will create models for sustainable community development in Kenya and serve as a model for other developing countries as well.

External Reviews



Need more info on this nonprofit?

Need more info on this nonprofit?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, website and contact information


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, website and contact information

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?