Seed Libraries Build Local Food Resilience | News, Sports, Jobs
LANSING – More than 650 public libraries, gardens and community centers across Michigan will receive packets of Boston Pickling cucumber seeds next spring as part of a seed saving and exchange program.
Seed saving is the practice of collecting and storing mature seeds for planting in subsequent growing seasons. As with traditional library books, seed libraries contain seeds that circulate among community members.
Once the original seed is planted and ripe, new seeds from the fruit are harvested and sent back to the library to restart the cycle.
The program, called One Seed, One State, is hosted by the Michigan Seed Library Network. It unites the state in a learning experience, said founder Bevin Cohen of downstate Sanford.
“I hope we give people a chance to get their foot in the door to see what seed saving is all about,” he said. “Everyone grows the same plant, so it’s a shared experience. “
The network was created in 2018 with just about 30 seed exchange sites, Cohen said. Today Michigan has more than 100 of the country’s 400 seed libraries.
“I realized that I was teaching the same concepts and ideas, answering the same questions, in every library I visited” Cohen said. “So I thought we needed a network, an umbrella, if you will, a resource hub. “
It is the only seed conservation network in the region that operates as a statewide alliance. Cohen said he hopes the network will lead the region in making seed saving more accessible.
The network started as a website and then became a nonprofit in 2019, said Pam Quackenbush, a member of the Canton of Lyon board of directors. It functions as a resource for independent seed savers and newly started seed libraries.
The website provides a seed library location map, how-to guides and promotional material.
The growth of seed libraries is due to the growing recognition of seed conservation as a means of combating loss of crop diversity due to commercialization, said Deborah Lynch, director of the Grosse Pointe Grows seed conservation program and librarian. at the Grosse Pointe public library. Ewald branch.
“The loss of diversity puts us at a disadvantage when things go wrong. “ Lynch said. “If we have local communities that keep the genetic material of different varieties, it could actually be a saving grace for us. “
Cohen said that saving seeds is the foundation of food security, as conserving germplasm increases the nutritional quality of crops.
“When we keep our seeds from our own gardens, they adapt to our local climates, which will ensure more vibrant plants, which is the cornerstone of food security”, Cohen said. “The food is as local as the seed from which it grows. “
The Michigan Seed Library Network profiles the seed libraries on its website.
The state’s 100 seed libraries include those in Marquette, Benzonia, Munising, Pickford, Northport, Grand Haven, Lexington, Jonesville, Coldwater, Union City, and Lakeview.
With further development, the network hopes to become a national resource, Quackenbush said.
Cohen said, “Baby steps is where we want to start with this. When we do things we’ve never done before, it can seem intimidating.
“But in reality, people have saved seeds since the dawn of agriculture. If you wanted to eat food, you had to grow it. And if you wanted to grow this food, you had to save your seeds ”, he said.