Vegetable seeds tightly closed in jars to keep them more viable are all from The Learning Garden's growing over the past couple of years. These very seeds could be the beginning of a seed library for the Los Angeles area.
The Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) has been brewing for some time – and it's not quite soup yet – there are hurdles still to cross. But it is closer to reality because The Learning Garden has taken on the challenge of making it happen.
A seed library works very similar to a book library or a tool library. The main difference – and the real nut of the difficulty in making it viable – is that seeds are living entities having a life expiration that puts a whole new urgency into the program.
Once you have joined a seed library – you check out seeds from them just like you would a book. You plant the seeds and grow out your crop, at the end of the season, you return fresh seeds, from your crop, to the library. The library benefits from being able to offer the next person fresh seed and you benefit from having free seeds. It's a win/win and it keeps Monsanto out of your garden and denies them profit from feeding your family.
The Learning Garden, more than any other local entity is the perfect place for a seed library because of the wealth of variety we alone can bring to the table. We have vegetables, California Natives and medicinal plants from which we can store and provide seed – our own inventory of seed is massive giving us the lead in this field. We also have space to be able to grow out seed that needs to be refreshed.
The challenges of making this work are, as follows:
- We need volunteers to run the seed library – catalog and inventory the supplies and to run the 'open' days
- We need a database complicated enough to thoroughly track the seed and insuring viability for those checking out the seed but simple enough to be used by volunteers – I have experience with Access and it is certainly complicated enough, not so much usable. Friends suggest File Maker Pro, but I have never used it and don't have the cash to get it, making that a moot point.
- We need to create a space just for the library to store seeds and have available to them. That, I think can be managed by the Garden by rearranging some of the space in my office and we can turn part of that over to a seed storage space.
So, at this time, I'm looking for some folks willing to devote some of their time to start and run a seed library and some way to log the seeds and the persons who have joined. AND I'd like to learn who is interested in joining a seed library and checking out seeds. At this point, I'm considering a nominal $10 membership fee, which I think should net someone life time membership (your life or my life or the life of the seeds?) – other than the start up costs, I can't see a seed bank costing a great deal to run. I've got an ancient computer around here, if I can get a database program on it to run, that solves that end of the equation. Perhaps there will need to be a fine if you don't bring back the seeds on time, like an overdue book.
Let me know – and I'll keep you posted as we move forward.