Talk about a plot twist, this one is really exciting. Recently, NPR broadcast this story, How To Save A Public Library: Make It A Seed Bank. It garnered a lot of attention, and the library as seed bank is a great idea, and so is saving public libraries, but I fond that title a bit overstated. From the article;
The American Library Association says there are at least a dozen similar programs throughout the country.
It's a great idea, and one that is worth developing. It's a rather simple procedure, a library member checks out a package of seeds like they would with a book, and they return a package of seeds from what they grew. There are many benefits to a program like this such a learning about how important seeds and seed saving are, reviving a local community based tradition, having access to locally grown seeds, and depending on the program, access to heirloom varieties. Most important, it keeps open access to seeds for everyone.
I'm very excited by the Community Seed Kits, and the intent to grow them into local seed libraries. I grew up around a farming community, and a local supply company had a seed room. On three walls in the room there were drawers like card catalogues, and on the front of the drawers, seed packets. There were barrels of onion and potato sets, scales at the counter, along with farmers trading stories. I was very fortunate to experience this. What are your thoughts about the seed kits, and why local seed libraries are important? Do you see these libraries as a potential national network? I just returned from the Midwest and met a young man who wants to build and network public libraries across state lines to be seed libraries, and to create a database and link their collections along the lines of an interlibrary book loan program. So I see great potential for the future of local seed libraries and other forms of local seed exchanges. It’s more than just libraries – it can be collaborations of school gardens, community gardens and individuals collectively curating a local collection in the field. The community seed movement is just beginning to emerge, and I expect to see a diversity of forms with a shared goal of creating local seed resiliency. It’s great to see people getting active in creating positive change, in determining their own seed futures and building community while they do it. We play a small role in that with our kits and our educational resources, but are glad to be a supportive player. Community Seed Kits.
The idea Matthew talks about is great. What a tremendous resource that database could be. Locally, I will work with my local library to set up a seed bank there. Also, I will be participating in a Meet the Author's event on April 20, 2013 where 9 libraries, including my local library, will showcase local authors and their books. Hopefully, I can generate some interest with the other 8 libraries as well. I have another lead for more libraries also. It all came in a flash, ignited by synchronicity. The story is telling me to follow it, and I will.
Here's what I want to do, set up a nonprofit media company to provide education material about seed saving, media planning and support to these library seed banks to get the message out to the community. I will develop an editable generic tool kit for them to print inhouse, and I can take care of media contacts and email blasts etc. I will use crowd sourcing, take donations, apply for grants and seek corporate support.
This too important to me to allow it to wither on the vine. I will offer my services to libraries to take care of the marketing and communication for them. My hope is that for libraries it will be a matter of checking packages of seeds and in and out, and some local printing of the materials they need to inform the community.
I have libraryseedbank.org, and libraryseedbank.info reserved for this, and hopefully by April 20, 2013 a crowd sourcing project set up. Cheers!