Heirloom Seed Banks Come to Public Libraries

Checking out seeds at the public library
Image source: CRMPI

Activist Post

NPR recently reported on an interesting new phenomenon of heirloom seeds being checked out like books through public libraries.

The program which has expanded to over 12 public libraries works something like this:

  • Local gardeners save seeds from their most successful plants and donate them to the library.  
  • Library members can then ‘check out’ the seeds to plant in their gardens on the promise to then save seeds from the best plants and return them to the library.

It’s an innovative way to build a public seed bank of heirloom seeds for plants that have proven their veracity in local climates and soil.  It’s also a way for public libraries to stay relevant in an age when ebooks and Amazon are denting their necessity.

NPR writes:

The library’s director, Barbara Milnor, says in the age of digital, downloadable books and magazines, the tangible seed packets are another way to draw people in.

‘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.

Listen to the short NPR story below:

The library highlighted in the NPR report, Basalt Public Library, is working in conjunction with Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI).

CRMPI says the program was found by farmers who are concerned about the planet’s seed stock:

The new Basalt Seed Library Project is a part of a growing network of concerned farmers and community gardeners dedicated to conserving the remaining genetic diversity of our planet’s seed stock. We are creating a library of healthy and regionally adapted vegetable, herb and flower seeds that is available free to the public

To learn  more information about this program or how to start one at your library, E-Mail Stephanie@CRMPI.org.

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