Seed Libraries, Community-based Initiaties to Preserve and Protect Our Food Supply

by: Sara on 02/05/2015

Over the past few generations, multinational corporations have seized the lion's share of the seed market, squeezing out small, regional, family-run companies and causing biodiversity to suffer. In recent year, gardeners have come to realize the inherent danger in this situation. Seed saving is the first step on the road to reclaiming control of our harvest while expanding the available stock of heritage and heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables. In today's blog, Cindy Conner, the author of the just released Seed Libraries: And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People talks about the important role seed libraries have in our future food security.

Bulk seed that patrons will put in envelopes themselves

Seed libraries are seed share initiatives that have been popping up in public libraries, although you might also find them elsewhere. They are places where people can take small amounts of seed, grow them out, and bring seed back to share with others. Hopefully, in the process they will gain knowledge, learn new skills, and meet new people. The seeds you save from your garden will be on their way to being naturally adapted to your niche climate, whatever it may be. That is quite an advantage over seeds that have been grown in vastly different conditions, as may be the case when buying from seed companies. More importantly, we can exchange seeds with others, sharing our culture and preserving genetic diversity by keeping alive regional varieties that large seed companies would tend to discontinue.

There is a lot to know about saving seeds, so the ideal seed library would also sponsor educational events and have material available for loan to their members. Seeds are so important that we need to be educating everyone about seeds, not only those who will be saving them. Seeds need to be celebrated in every way possible and public libraries are in a position to do that with their resources and programming.

Mississippi Silver Cowpeas. One pod & the dried peas it contained

Seed libraries are a new way of looking at how seeds are shared and that has become a problem in a few states. The departments of agriculture in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota, and Nebraska have decided that seed libraries need to follow the same rules as seed companies. Rarely does change happen where chaos is not involved, and this is no exception. Not to worry. People are at work to have seed libraries exempt from seed laws, which is what needs to happen, and I believe it will happen in each state.

There are so many things to consider when setting up a seed share program such as a seed library. You need seeds to start with and you need a process in place to organize the distribution of them to your members and to collect seeds when they bring them back. Meanwhile, you need keep the momentum going for all involved. A seed library needs to have the backing of many from the beginning. Seed Libraries: And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People will be a big help in enlightening those who are on this adventure. Saving and sharing seeds was once the norm. With a little help from seed libraries, it can become that again.










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