Perhaps reflecting the change in seasons, I continue to fascinated with all things plant and library related. The annual TRY Library Staff Conference held yesterday included the poster "Growing Toronto's Seed Library" by Brendan Louis Paul Behrmann, Katie Berger, Jacob Kearey Moreland. As Behrmann, Berger and Moreland explain in their abstract, seed libraries operate by allowing people to "sign out" seeds, which they then return by harvesting the new seeds produced from the plants grown.
The image included at left is from the Main Street Neighbourhood Village Seed Library in Vancouver, and even a quick internet search reveals that there are a growing number of seed library projects across North America. Although at the national level here in Canada there is the not-for-profit Seeds of Diversity, the bulk of seed libraries are local very small scale grassroots entities.
Behrmann, Berger and Moreland argue for greater inclusion of seed libraries into mainstream library systems. They identify many benefits to seed libraries:
The mission of local seed libraries is to bring seed saving and sharing into the mainstream; to offer an accessible alternative to genetically modified corporate seeds, to encourage exchange of seed saving and history; encourage people to take an active part in producing food, nurture biological and cultural diversity, provide a platform for seed/food/environmental education while building community. They are a novel and innovative tool for spreading food literacy, food democracy, and achieving food sovereignty.
One example of possible collaboration between seed libraries and mainstream libraries is happening in Markham. As of April 20, 2013, the Milliken Mills Branch now hosts Markham Grows Seed Library. This initiative is not only offering seeds for borrowing but also a series of workshops.
For further reading on seed libraries, I recommend: Share Seeds to Save Seeds: The seed library movement from roots to bloom, originally published in Heirloom Gardener Magazine Fall 2012.