‘Seed Libraries’ Is Here

Reader Contribution by Cindy Conner
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Imagine if you had one source to refer to with the basics of starting and maintaining a seed library to use with your seed-saving partners. Seed Libraries: And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the Peopleis that source! From this book you will learn the history of the seed library movement, why you should be involved, and how to go about it. Getting your seed sharing program up and running is only part of the story. You need to keep it going and this book is full of ideas to help with that. You will find more about Seed Libraries at Homeplace Earth.

Many people have been on the seed library journey much longer than I and I was fortunate to be able to connect with them in the writing of this book. You will meet them in the pages and can follow the links to learn more about their projects. One of the people I wrote about, Sascha DuBrul, has provided some back story about the very first seed library in his recent blog Maps to the Other Side. Sascha was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which has characteristic highs and lows, and was riding on the high side at the time. I wonder that if he wasn’t in that state, if he was thinking like everyone else, would he have thought of starting a seed library and campaigning for awareness of seeds. Sascha looks at mental illness as a gift to be understood. It just might be the gift that brought us the first seed library.

When I wrote Grow a Sustainable DietI was relating what I had learned after delving deep into Biontensive gardening, cover crops, and researching growing a complete diet. Although I had been a seed saver for a long time, my personal experience with seed libraries was what I had learned from watching my daughter, Betsy Trice, start the Goochland Community Seed Saving Library at Reynolds Community College. I had many of the same questions that others have about how seed libraries work and if the members would really bring seeds back. So, I set out to learn as much as I could from the projects that were already established, those that were planned and never got off the ground, and those that did not survive after the first couple years. One of my talents is seeing relationships that might not be so evident to others. I used that talent, along with my seed saving experience and research into seed libraries to write a book that will help seed library enthusiasts put together seed sharing initiatives that will resonate with their individual communities.

What I discovered is that you need to really think through your project from the beginning. Making seeds available is not enough. Most likely, your potential seed savers will need support with the ins and outs of seed saving. Everyone needs company on a new journey such as this. With that in mind, you need to keep your members engaged through the growing season so they know you are thinking of them and supporting them. The seed savers need to meet the other seed library members so they can share their seed saving stories with like-minded folks. My book has ideas for all of these things.

If you have been watching from afar, wondering if a seed library is in your future, this book will help you decide. If you can, visit a seed library that is already established. Do your homework first so you will know what to ask about. All the seed libraries I’ve visited were happy to show me around and not just because I was writing a book. They are that friendly to everyone and excited to show off what they’ve accomplished. They are also frank about the pitfalls they experienced. There are no guarantees that the seed library road won’t be bumpy, but it will surely be exciting.

Besides writing Seed Libraries and Grow a Sustainable Diet, Cindy Conner has produced DVDs about gardening planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth.

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