Thursday, March 12, 2015

Seed libraries: Gardeners ‘check out’ seeds

There’s been an interesting confluence of energies around the subject of seed libraries. I’ve encountered three references from unique sources in recent weeks.

To begin with, in its Jan./Feb. 2015 edition, American Libraries published an article about seed libraries that operate through public and school libraries.
“The basic concept of a seed library is fairly simple: Gardeners ‘check out’ seeds to plant in their own gardens, and when the growing season is done, they save seeds from the plants they grew and return them for other gardeners to use next year.”
Written by Greg Landgraf, the article addresses issues related to successful operation of these libraries, including check-out and return policies, with a sidebar addressing state laws.

The next reference was an emailed petition, forwarded by a petition signer. The petition asks directors of U.S. state Departments of Agriculture (DOAs) to issue statements declaring that their seed-enforcement policies that regulate commercial sales, do not apply to seed libraries. The petition is tied to a film, Seeds of Time, which documents efforts by Cary Fowler, a “crop diversity pioneer,” to create a seed vault to preserve genetic diversity. The petition targets the DOAs of “all 50” U.S. states, but apparently this is especially an issue in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Minnesota and Nebraska.

The final communique about seed libraries was in the form of an advertisement for Seed Libraries, a book written by Cindy Connor. An essay by Connor, talking about her book, was published by Mother Earth News on its Organic Gardening blog. It seemed more useful to find and link to this, than to a sales promotion set to expire.
“Public libraries have begun to add seeds to their offerings and you will find more seed libraries as part of public library programs than any other venue. ... However, seed sharing can take place between friends, in informal gatherings, and as organized seed swaps.”
I don’t know what significance seed libraries will play in my personal or professional life — except that as a library professional, I am interested in the forms that library services take as they meet the unique needs of their communities.

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