The Benefits of A Seed Exchange

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Source: seasonalwisdom.com via Teresa on Pinterest

It’s gardening season again here in North America! These days, I am more concerned about our food supply than climate change. Monsanto is taking over by buying up small seed companies and bee research companies. When I start to get paranoid, I see the future of our food as robotic and artificial. There will be nothing related to nature if we allow this to continue.

I am a big supporter of local farms, farmers markets and businesses that buy local food. But I think we need to move in closer to home to secure our food system. We need to grow our own, save our seeds and share.

Seeding seed culture

Seeds have gotten expensive over the years, and you always get more in a packet than you need, especially if you are not growing for a family or trying to put up all your food for winter. A packet might have 50 seeds in it, but you just want two plants. That’s a lot of extra seed! Isn’t your seed stash out of control? Don’t you want to swap them with your friends and other gardeners? I do! As we try new varieties or specialty plants, the stash piles up, but I want to help solve that problem.

I came across an organization in Hawaii, Eating in Public, which advocates freecycling, sharing and growing food. They have seed sharing stations where people bring in seeds of one variety to swap for another. These stations are adopted by businesses with progressive values, and each agrees to watch over one for at least a year.

Seed lending library

When I mentioned this to someone, she sent me a link to the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library in Richmond, CA, which is more extensive. Seeds are to be ‘checked out’, grown to maturity and ‘checked back in’. The focus is seed saving. There are detailed instructions on how to grow and save seed. Richmond Grows has a community seed garden and provides workshops on growing vegetables, ornamentals and herbs. There is also a fruit tree grafting class! If you are in the San Francisco Bay area, this sounds like a wonderful place to get involved in gardening.

This is my new project! I have spoken with two businesses in town that are willing to loan me some space to put up a small desk for a perpetual seed swap. I don’t think a lending library is a good fit for our town, but it would work well in a more populated area, I think. On the other hand, I am going to start small and see what happens. It might morph into a big library!

Source: everydayfoodstorage.net via Darlene on Pinterest

Ways to encourage local food growing

A seed exchange is a community service. No one sells anything. It provides a place for gardeners to get seeds for the season. You might come across vegetables, flowers or fruits you’ve never heard of, grown or eaten. Having access to seeds you wouldn’t normally buy expands your gardening knowledge by letting you experiment. If you are on a budget, this is a good way to stretch your gardening dollars. Maybe you have extra tomato seeds to swap and you see some exotic flower you’ve never tried. You have nothing to lose by doing a trade. As my old farm boss said, it’s all an experiment. So have fun with it!

Consider starting a seed exchange or library in your area. These two websites offer plenty of information to get you started. You can even be a Sister Library of Richmond Grows. All the work is done for you. You just have to find a place and set up! An exchange does not have to be fancy or big. It just needs to help home gardeners do more! We need to grow as local as we can get – right in our backyards.

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.