The MV Community Seed Library
The Martha’s Vineyard Community Seed Library is excited to continue collecting seed returns and donations on the library porch. Our seed giveaway last spring was so successful that the seed cabinet is empty! Please stop by to “return” the seeds you borrowed and/or add your own locally saved vegetable, flower, and fruit seeds to this special collection. While the West Tisbury Library building remains closed to the public, there will be a small Seed Library drop box on the porch during curbside hours to deposit and safely store your seeds. The MV Community Seed Library group will monitor the drop box regularly and file seeds into the cabinet until our annual winter seed swap and giveaway event.
Please help us grow and develop locally adapted varieties for our seed cabinet, and share in the joy of producing locally grown food! If you have questions about seed saving, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please be sure to label your seeds and secure them in an envelope, bag, small container, etc. Printable seed labels are available here, and pre-printed seed labels on the library porch during curbside hours. Please contact the West Tisbury Library with any questions: email@example.com, 508-693-3366.
The MV Community Seed Library is a collaboration with Island Grown Initiative, Polly Hill Arboretum, West Tisbury Library, Island farmers and home gardeners, and through federal funds provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.
A 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 the 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.
To learn more about seed libraries, please visit www.seedlibraries.org, www.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.
The 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