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Seed Libraries (PDF)
And Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People
Historically, seed companies were generally small, often family-run businesses. Because they were regionally-based, they could focus on varieties well-suited to the local environment. A Pacific Northwest company, for example, would specialize in different cultivars than a company based in the Southeast. However the absorption of these small, independent seed businesses into large multinationals, combined with the advancement of biotechnology resulting in hybrids and GMO seeds, has led to a serious loss of genetic diversity. The public is now at the mercy of the corporations who control the seeds.
In the past few years, gardeners have realized the inherent danger in this situation. A growing movement is striving to preserve and expand our stock of heritage and heirloom varieties through seed saving and sharing opportunities. Seed Libraries is a practical guide to saving seeds through community programs, including:
- Step-by-step instructions for setting up a seed library
- A wealth of ideas to help attract patrons and keep the momentum going
- Examples of existing libraries and other types of seed saving partnerships.
Whoever controls the seeds controls the food supply. By empowering communities to preserve and protect the genetic diversity of their harvest Seed Libraries is the first step towards reclaiming our self-reliance while enhancing food security and ensuring that the future of food is healthy, vibrant, tasty and nutritious.
Cindy Conner, is a permaculture educator and founder of Homeplace Earth. She is the producer of two popular instructional DVDs entitled Develop a Sustainable Vegetable Garden Plan and Cover Crops and Compost Crops IN Your Garden. A former market gardener, Cindy was instrumental in establishing a sustainable agriculture program at her local community college which she taught for over a decade. She is also the author of Grow a Sustainable Diet.
"Seed Libraries is must-read for anyone concerned about the absorption of small, regional seed companies into large, petrochemical multinationals; the rise of GMO seeds; and the loss of genetic diversity in our food crops. Cindy Conner introduces a movement to keep seeds in the hands of the people while revitalizing public libraries and communities. She encourages us to set up our own local seed libraries with step-bystep instructions on getting started, as well as how to keep it going. As Cindy says, 'whoever controls the seeds controls the food supply."
Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and author, The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast
"Cindy Conner is a woman after my own heart: focused on cooperating with life's generosity to shape a bountiful future. Seed Libraries opens wide a door to the world of seed saving for the curious and committed alike. The only seeds I now "save" are from generations of neglected self-seeding Russian Kale plants, but with this book I believe I could be my own empowered seed-mistress."
Vicki Robin, author, Blessing the Hands that Feed Us
"Seed saving groups of all kinds are sprouting up across the country. Seed Libraries adds important perspective to the resources available for gardeners to develop their own living, resilient, and fundamentally nurturing seed sources. Rather than saying there is just one way to save and share seeds, this book will help groups find their own path and reassures us that diversity is a cultural and genetic necessity for both seeds and healthy communities."
Ken Greene, Founder, Hudson Valley Seed Library, and board member, Organic Seed Alliance.
"As someone who has been involved with seeds for the past 30 years, I highly recommend Cindy Conner's book, Seed Libraries. She has thoroughly researched her subject and has written a full and fascinating account of the seed movement in North America. Not only does her book have much great advice and tips about starting seed libraries, her friendly writing style makes the book such a pleasure to read. What warmed my heart most of all were Cindy's many poetic gems about seeds, observations that could only come after long and passionate intimacy with them. Way to go, Cindy."
Dan Jason, President, Salt Spring Sanctuary Society and owner, Salt Spring Seeds
"Cindy Conner brilliantly chronicles the seed library movement and provides practical tools and strategies on how to preserve our genetic and cultural heritage in seed libraries."
Rebecca Newburn, Co-Founder, Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library
"Conner's informative book, Seed Libraries, is a must-read for anyone embarking on the task of setting up their own seed library, or those just interested in becoming more informed on the issue of genetic diversity in our food systems. It combines practical knowledge with the philosophy behind seed libraries and would be useful in your first or tenth year of operating a seed library and saving seeds. Highly recommended."
Paul Hrycyk, Seed Library Coordinator, Seeds of Diversity