PLEDGE NOW
A Library For Your Seeds

Seed libraries sprouting all over. We’ll dig into the populist push to preserve diversity – and flavor — in our gardens and diets.

In this Dec. 18, 2014 photo, Betsy Goodman handles seed packets at the Benson public library in Omaha, Neb. Goodman established a seed library at the library branch in 2012, and patrons checked out nearly 5,000 packets this year. Seed exchanges have sprouted up in about 300 locations around the country, most often in libraries, but the effort has created a conflict between well-meaning gardeners and state agriculture officials who feel obligated to enforce laws restricting the practice. (AP)

In this Dec. 18, 2014 photo, Betsy Goodman handles seed packets at the Benson public library in Omaha, Neb. Goodman established a seed library at the library branch in 2012, and patrons checked out nearly 5,000 packets this year. Seed exchanges have sprouted up in about 300 locations around the country, most often in libraries, but the effort has created a conflict between well-meaning gardeners and state agriculture officials who feel obligated to enforce laws restricting the practice. (AP)

We all know what a library is. But do you know seed libraries? Not the corporate seed catalogs that plenty of people have already been scouring this season, to get their gardens going. But a seed library, where ordinary citizens – gardeners – check seeds in and out. Check them out when it’s planting time. Bring seeds back when you’ve harvested. To keep and celebrate the local, the regional, in veggies and more. To keep and celebrate diversity – bio-diversity – at a time when Big Food pushes toward monocultures. This hour On Point: the populist push in local seed libraries, to save the world.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ken Greene, owner, Hudson Valley Seed Library. Set up the nation’s first seed library in Gardiner, NY. (@seedlibrary)

Belle Star, co-founder of the Seed School, a seed educational company. Co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance.

Dan Barber, chef and co-owner, Blue Hill Restaurants. Author of “The Third Plate.” (@danbarber)

Johnny Zook, seed program supervisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture.

From Tom’s Reading List

Boston Globe: ‘Seed libraries’ try to save the world’s plants — “The circulating-library model might seem like a strange fit with gardening. When you check out books and DVDs, you’re supposed to bring them back so others can use them, but with seeds, there’s a strong chance nothing will come back at all. And, in a world where fruit and vegetable seeds are available for just a few dollars a packet, free seeds aren’t a pressing need most places.”

The Wall Street Journal: Gardeners on Alert as Pennsylvania Targets Risks of Seed Exchanges — “In June, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture told a public library in Mechanicsburg, Pa., that it couldn’t distribute homegrown seeds. The agency said a planned seed-exchange program would run afoul of a 2004 state law requiring anyone who distributes seeds to conduct certain quality tests, adhere to labeling and storage rules and acquire a license.”

Mother Earth News: Seed-Sharing Snafu — “The creation of seed libraries to facilitate seed sharing and preserve seed diversity has been spreading, with an estimated 300 libraries now operating nationally. Officials in several other states are now saying that the libraries can’t give away or exchange seeds unless they first obtain a permit and comply with the numerous requirements of the seed-labeling law.”

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