The MV Community Seed Library

seedlibrarylogoA collaborative project of the West Tisbury Library, Island Grown Schools, and the FARM Institute, the Martha’s Vineyard Community Seed Library brings the knowledge of how to save seeds back to our island community while creating a central space where seeds can be freely shared. Over time we aim to create a locally adapted collection of seeds, and a community of growers engaged in the ancient practice of seed saving. By saving and sharing seeds, we can increase local food security, strengthen our sense of self reliance, and safeguard genetic diversity while honoring the age old tradition of passing down seeds from generation to generation.

To stay up-to-date on seed library events and workshops, visit the MV Community Seed Library’s Facebook page.

Seed Libraries, a Short History:

In the spring of 2014, Ken Greene, the founder of the country’s first community seed library, came to the Vineyard to help lead a seed saving workshop. Ken explained the concept of a seed library to us: create a central space where people can donate seeds to share, and “check out” seeds to plant in their own gardens, with the hopes they would again save seeds from those plants to return to the library at the end of the growing season. Seed libraries are a way to bring the ancient practice of seed saving back to a community, while, over time, developing a collection of seeds that are adapted to the local environment. There are now more than 300 seed libraries across the US.

Seed libraries are a vibrant part of the grassroots movement to rebuild local food systems and revitalize crop diversity. With the decline in locally based seed saving, sharing and selling and theIMG_5216 rise of industrial agriculture, we lost 75% of global crop diversity in the 20th Century, and the stories, culinary traditions, and local adaptations each of those varieties represented. But since the mid-1980s, there has been a hopeful trend in the opposite direction—people bringing back rare varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, and livestock primarily through what Gary Nabhan calls “alternative food networks” in his beautiful and compelling piece Conservation You Can Taste. Nabhan estimates 15,000 varieties have returned to American growers and eaters over the last 25 years, thanks to the dedication of countless farmers, gardeners, chefs, and consumers.

Seed libraries are a vibrant part of these “alternative food networks,” and we were so inspired by the seed library movement that we decided to start one here on the Vineyard. IGS, the FARM Institute, and the West Tisbury Library have been spearheading the Martha’s Vineyard Community Seed Library since last October, along with a growing group of both long-time and first-time seed savers, leading seed saving and processing workshops and maintaining a small but growing seed collection in a card catalog downstairs in the library.11357294_10204505098217218_8782499647667395953_o

To learn more about seed libraries, please visit www.seedlibraries.orgwww.richmondgrowsseeds.org, or www.seedlibraries.weebly.com, and please come by our own local seed library at the West Tisbury Library and become part of this movement yourself.

DOWNLOAD THE MV SEED LIBRARY BORROWER INFO SHEET.
DOWNLOAD THE SUPER-EASY SEED SAVING GUIDE (From Richmond Grows Seed Library)

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IMG_5240-300x225The MV Community Seed Library in the Media:

The Community Seed Library Comes to Fruition – April 1, 2015, Martha’s Vineyard Times

Swapping Seeds and Stories – February 4, 2015, Martha’s Vineyard Times

Each Seed Has a Story at West Tisbury Seed Library – November 18, 2014, Vineyard Gazette

To Save a Seed – Harvest Issue, 2014, Edible Vineyard

New Community Seed Library Launching – September 24, 2014, Vineyard Gazette

Seed Libraries // The Local Food Report – May 8, 2014, Diary of a Locavore by Elspeth Hay, WCAI