The Miller Seed Vault is a state-of-the-art facility specially designed for storing seeds under optimal environmental conditions in a secure facility. Known as ex situ (off site) conservation, seed banking allows scientists to preserve the genetic resources of plant species so that these species are not lost in the event of a catastrophe.

Cleaning Sidalcea nelsoniana seeds

Inside the Miller Seed Vault

The Miller Seed Vault is the largest vault of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Reinforced for earthquake protection, the 150-square-foot vault has a workroom, a short-term storage room, and a long-term storage freezer. The environment in both the workroom and short-term storage room are maintained at 15 degrees C. (57 degrees F.) and 22% relative humidity to quickly dry the seeds and keep them dry as seeds are cleaned, counted, and processed for long-term storage.

Seeds being held for ex situ conservation are ultimately placed in the long-term storage freezer. These seeds are placed in foil laminate bags and heat sealed to moisture-proof the contents. The temperature of the freezer is –18 degrees C. At this temperature, we expect many of these seeds to survive for decades before they lose viability.

The storage room provides space to hold larger quantities of seeds intended for use for restoration and research and is intended for holding seeds for shorter time periods (typically up to five years). Rare Care provides this service for free. Contact Rare Care if you are interested in storing your seeds in the Miller Seed Vault.

The climate-controlled Miller Seed Vault, funded by the Pendleton and Elisabeth Carey Miller Charitable Foundation, officially opened March 7, 2003.

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