Seed Libraries and Seed Exchanges are available in many parts of the country and around the world, but exactly what are they and who runs them and what are they for? As with any good article a little background on the importance of the subject matter and why it should be important to you is in order
A Brief History Of Seed Saving
For the last 10,000 to 12,000 farmers started to gather seeds from wild plants and began sowing them to grow food. During this time farmers selected and domesticated the major food crops that we eat today.
This work that our ancestors did help to bring about the thousands of different and genetically distinct varieties of the food crops that we have today. This is important because that diversity is what helps them to adapt to different growing conditions and our needs.
Commercial cultivation of these crops are important but so are the genes from wild relatives to help invigorate the gene pools. Today many of these crops are not only being lost they have actually become extinct this thanks to the commercialization of plant breeding by large multi international agricultural companies. With the use of biotechnology and new laws which give plant breeders a bill of rights to protect what they develop for as long as 25 years being adopted by governments around the world there is cause for concern.
During the past 30 to 40 years smaller plant breeders and seed companies have been bought out by these large companies and slowly the heirloom plants of the past are being replaced. As the large companies take over the seed market they have increasingly found ways to make more money while seriously reducing the availability for farmers and gardeners to buy seed that is not patented or controlled by the big companies.
While agriculture is growing crops that provide more production per acre with longer storage times and plants that can even manufacture their own insecticide it is not going to stop so eventually instead of thousands of varieties of different plants we are going to have a few dozen.
Seed Libraries and Seed Exchanges A Step In The Right Direction
The ideas for seed libraries and seed exchanges have been going on for a number of years even before they were started being organized in the last few years. At one time neighbors would share seeds with each other and that is how seeds were made available for the home garden. The movement is growing across the country and there currently as many as 485 seed libraries in existence.
A seed libraries general premise is that you go to the seed library and check out some seeds with the promise that the end of the season you will return some seeds to the library thus replacing what you borrowed and bring more back. These libraries are us staffed by volunteers from community groups that will get together a few hours a month to restock the display and take care of inquiries.
Seed libraries can be found in of course some community libraries, as well as garden centers, and colleges and universities. There are also Churches and Schools as well as other community based organizations that host seed libraries.
A seed exchange is usually an event held by garden clubs or groups and involves swapping seeds among members but is many times open to the public as well. There are also online seed exchanges that you can join and swap seeds with other members.
Both of these types of groups are there to help people that want to garden have an opportunity to try new varieties and in some cases be able to afford to garden by providing the seeds that they may not have the funds for. Each group may have it’s own rules but generally they are not strict and the focus on getting people to take some seeds and to return some seeds.
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That is what is really at the heart of this movement the gardening community trying to help other gardeners or those who are just starting out in gardening.
To find out more about Seed Libraries and Seed Exchanges please visit these resources: