28 February 2013

Seed-saving reaches public libraries

Seed-saving as a concept is as old as agriculture, and despite (or because of) the threat of genetically-modified crops, it continues to thrive.  Seed banks have been created as storehouses for preservation of traditional and heirloom varities, and seed libraries exist to encourage dissemination of the seeds.

In 2010 the New York Times described a seed library for heirloom plants in the Hudson River Valley.
Such groups are not common. There are only about a dozen seed-saving entities like Mr. Greene’s in the nation, said Bill McDorman, the president of one of them, Seeds Trust in Cornville, Ariz. These enterprises vary widely in age, size and formality, from the Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa, a multimillion-dollar group founded in 1975 by Mr. McDorman’s friend Kent Whealy, to the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, a grass-roots seed-swapping community in the San Francisco area that was begun just last May.

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...
In 2011 the Los Angeles Times reported on a similar venture in their city.

I was pleased to find an article at NPR this morning indicating that the concept has now been extended to incorporate some local public libraries.
"You have to be fleet of foot if you're going to stay relevant, and that's what the big problem is with a lot of libraries, is relevancy," she says.

Milnor says that while a library may seem like an odd location for a project like this, seeds and plants should be open to everyone. That makes a public library the perfect home for a seed collection. The American Library Association says there are at least a dozen similar programs throughout the country.
I'll try to forward this idea to the Library Board at our local library.

Via Neatorama.


  1. I'm concerned by what i hear about large agribusinesses monopolizing the seed supply and distribution and how they are patenting genes for seeds. A generation ago, there were hundreds of independent seed suppliers, providing small farms with "heritage" seeds that had been carefully bred over generations and now the seed market is overwhelmingly dominated by three players. What does everyone think?

    1. Possibly the ultimate reason for the ousting of President Lugo of Paraguay last year was his dedication to research and growing of native varieties of crops, which he claimed was part of the natural and cultural heritage of the people of that country. That was seen as contraditory to the interests of genetically-modified seed corporations Monsanto, Singenta and BASF. Although there wasn't (and isn't) an export tax over crops, Lugo used to tax heavily the import of chemical products used in this kind of plantation, and regulate licenses cautiously.

      One of the main figures of the coup was the ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Enzo Cardozo. Cardozo is said to have business with RoundUp-smuggling into the country, and is accused of illegaly authorizing the plantation of Bollgard BT, a Monsanto variety of genetically modified cotton.

      More info (in spanish):

    2. I'm sorry (but not surprised) to hear that.

  2. Several libraries also offer shaped and/or licensed cake pans for checkout.

    My mother had two shaped cake pans when we were kids. A generic race car for me, and the cartoon character Strawberry Shortcake for my sister. The car lent itself to several other shapes (ie, a skateboard) but the Strawberry Shortcake one was pretty clearly branded. I felt bad for my sister getting the same cake several years in a row.

    A library with a collection of checkout-able pans in various shapes would be awesome.

    You can google libary cake pans to see a number of cities doing this.


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