Seed libraries

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Catchfire Catchfire's picture
Seed libraries

Members of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, who have grown from 60 at the start to nearly 700 now, pay a $20 annual fee for 10 seed packs of their choice. The library offers 130 heirloom plant varieties, 50 of which come from locally produced seeds like Hank’s X-tra Special Baking Bean. Mr. Greene has high hopes for replenishing those seed stocks this year. The long, dry summer provided ideal seed-saving weather, he said; last year, partly due to the wet, chilly summer, only 10 percent of members sent back seeds. He should know by the end of November if his hopes have been realized.

The mission of the library, Mr. Greene said, is “to collect New York heirlooms and the cultural stories that came with them.” As with other seed libraries, he also aims to encourage biodiversity, to offer an alternative to the genetically modified seeds produced by large corporations and to make money. (The library is a for-profit venture.)

Mr. Greene, 38, and his companion and business partner, Doug Muller, 31, typically grow about 60 to 70 different plants on the group’s two acres in Accord, N.Y., to keep current stocks strong and to discover new plants. “We are always experimenting and trying to push the envelope of what can be grown in the Northeast,” Mr. Greene said. This year, they grew sesame and cotton, as well as peanuts and amaranth, an ancient grain.

“We love when people give us seed from the farm of some kooky guy they know who lives on rutabagas and cabbage on the Cape,” he continued. For all anyone knows, such largely unknown seeds may yield hardy, productive and tasty plants that will have wide appeal.

How to save a public library: make it a seed bank [NPR podcast]

Basic seed saving

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I went to some excellent lectures on Seedy Saturday here in Toronto at the Evergreen Brickworks.  There were four one-hour workshops, all free, on soil testing, seed starting, seed collecting, storing and saving, and container gardening.  I can't believe how much I learned in one afternoon.  And there was also a seed exchange where people can trade seeds with each other.  It was pretty neat.

I like the idea of the seed bank as well.  It's interesting that it's a for-profit business - that seems to me to be the type of thing that could be done so well as a cooperative venture or even a barter system.  On the other hand, the presenter at Seedy Saturday who did the talk on seed collecting, storing and saving runs a for-profit business in Prince Edward County selling heirloom seeds.  She's very young and her business is a start-up, but she clearly has a passion for it, and I don't think she's just in it for the money.


SEED: The Untold Story - Trailer by Collective Eye Films

scott scott's picture

seedy assembly 2013 poster

Seedy Assembly THIS Sunday Dec. 15th from 10-1130am at the Ryerson Student Centre, 55 Gould St.

"Cultivators of the Toronto Seed Library, a free community seed growing and sharing program, will facilitate a gardeners assembly to discuss the state of local and global seed security, including the ongoing privatization, contamination and destruction of the seed commons and the emergent global movement for Seed & Food Freedom."

- Sweet Peas its growing to bee fun...