I have seeds that I started saving when I lived in Montana, over 20 years ago. Every year, I save calendula seeds, dill, and others that remind me of living on that mountain, which brings me joy.
I love seed saving. It’s not at all difficult, but it is an extra step in your gardening season. I’ve been thinking a LOT about seed saving and how to make it more accessible to area gardeners. I think the answer may be a seed library. Let’s look at what a seed library is and how they are used.
What is a Seed Library?
A seed library is a collection of seeds aimed at preserving plant diversity, supporting local agriculture, and fostering community resilience and sustainability. It operates similarly to a traditional library, but instead of borrowing books, members take seeds to plant in their gardens. Here are some key aspects of how seed libraries work and their purpose:
- Borrowing Seeds: Members can “borrow” seeds at no cost with the intention of growing the plants in their gardens. The variety of seeds available can include vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers, focusing on heirloom and open-pollinated varieties that can be saved and regrown.
- Saving Seeds: After the growing season, members are encouraged (though not always required) to save seeds from their plants and return a portion of these seeds back to the library. This practice helps to replenish the library’s stock and ensures the continuation of a diverse seed collection.
- Education and Community Engagement: Seed libraries often provide educational resources on how to save seeds, sustainable gardening practices, and the importance of biodiversity. They serve as community hubs, bringing together individuals with an interest in gardening, sustainability, and local food systems.
- Preserving Biodiversity and Heritage Varieties: By focusing on heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, seed libraries play a crucial role in preserving genetic diversity and plant heritage. This is important for adapting to changing climates and maintaining a wide range of plant traits, such as taste, nutritional value, and resistance to pests and diseases.
- Accessibility: Seed libraries make gardening more accessible to the community by providing seeds for free or for a nominal fee. This encourages more people to engage in gardening, even if they don’t have the means to purchase seeds.
- Local Adaptation: Seeds that are saved and shared within a community tend to become better adapted to the local environment over time. This local adaptation can lead to plants that are more resilient to local pests, diseases, and weather conditions.
Seed libraries represent a grassroots effort to promote sustainability, food security, and community resilience through the sharing and preservation of seeds.