Save seeds for generations to come

ďIn the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught.Ē Senegalese environmentalist Baba Dioum.

Fall is the time of harvest, giving thanks and returning your seeds to the Seed Lending Library. We hope that you all had a delicious summer and reaped a bountiful and healthy crop. This is a reminder that just as your books and DVDís become due, your seeds are now due if you borrowed some. If you didnít, you may want to consider donating some genetically pure (non-hybrids) or heritage seed. We would welcome vegetable or flower seeds. We have a form and an envelope ready for you at the library at the Seed Exchange table.

Our goal is to preserve a diverse but endangered garden heritage for future generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving and sharing heirloom seeds and plants while educating ourselves about the value of genetic and cultural diversity.

Crop diversity is the biological basis of agriculture. Each year 1 to 2 percent of crop diversity is lost and more than 75 percent of genetically diverse crops present at the beginning of the 20th century are now gone. We think that is a huge wake up call. Remember our King Banquet Bean? Thanks to a few farmers we are preserving seed, history and story all in one bean. Plant breeders need heirloom varieties to confer resistance to evolving diseases and pests and to help plants better adapt to global climate change. MPLís seed Lending Library and your participation in it helps save samples of crop variations so they donít disappear forever.

Seed saving is central to the ideals of sustainability and food security, especially in times of real concern about climate change and food safety. Only open pollinated, heirloom seeds have the ability to adapt to changing climate conditions in the time frame that they happen. We are likely to see climate changes that manifest as dry spells and drought; late and early frosts; hail storms and floods; insect and other attacks on crops, etc. The variability inherent in heirloom seeds will provide the basis for the continued selection of crops that are most able to adapt to these changes.

Long before seed companies and agricultural science, people collected, saved, and replanted seeds from one year to the next as an essential part of our survival for thousands of years. Seed saving is the reason our current crops came to be, which were selected for various traits over generations and traded across regions and continents. This selection lead to a genetic diversity of crops adapted to many growing conditions and climates, and created a large base for our food supply.

Over time however, genetic crop diversity has declined from 7,000 to 150 plant species, specifically with the rise of modern agricultural practices. This loss means that our food supply is reliant on a small selection of crops, making it more vulnerable to pests, diseases, and changes in climate.

Seed saving today may sound like a hobby to some, but the saving and sharing of rare, heirloom, and native seeds has always been, and still is, an important part of our worldwide food security. Thanks for being a part of our Seed bank! Letís keep it growing.