Seed Libraries Newsletter
Cool Beans!
February 2017- Issue #9
Legislative Update - Great News!
2017 begins with incredible momentum in the world of community seed sharing advocacy! To date, there are now at least 4 states (California, Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois) that have passed legislation exempting various forms of seed sharing from state seed laws. The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has reversed it's previous position so that seed libraries are no longer within the scope of the seed law. Additionally, in large part due to the on-the-ground advocacy of seed librarians, the national association of state seed regulators also adopted an amendment to their model state seed legislation that defines noncommercial seed sharing as a separate activity with minimal labeling requirements and no testing or registration requirements. To support communities in continuing to advocate for legal protections of our seed commons, Sustainable Economies Law Center has put together a Seed Democracy Advocacy Toolkit, available for free download here, with FAQs, a bill proposal, and sample documents including legislation, city council resolutions, and letters of support. For more resources on the broader campaign, visit the Sustainable Economies Law Center's Seed Sharing Resources webpage.

The structure of the seed industry continues to change, with more and more consolidation of behemoth seed companies, international trade agreements that export extremely restrictive American intellectual property laws, and almost certainly less regulatory oversight under the new administration. The path forward to a democratic seed system requires that we continue to create and support networks of local seed producers, which means changing laws to recognize and support these local seed economies. One of the goals of the Community Seed Network is to provide resources, tools, and connections so that community seed programs across the continent can build collective power to advocate for changes that support the continued growth of a seed commons.

International Collaboration to Support 
Community Seed Sharing
Authored by the Community Seed Network Working Group
SSE Seed Library Meeting 2016
Seed libraries and advocates meet in Decorah, Iowa at Seed Savers Exchange Conference and Campout to discuss the creation of a formal organization to support seed libraries .

Over the past 10 years, the number, diversity and reach of community-based seed collections has been impressively growing. As action for community scale seed sovereignty spreads, so too does the desire to effectively collaborate across regions and cultures. Those of us striving to catalyze community seed sharing seem to be hearing a prescient need for effective systems to share resources, advice and a vision of our collective impact. We believe in the transformative power of this movement and want to collaborate effectively for change.
Since the First International Seed Library Forum in Tucson, AZ in May, 2015, a dedicated group of American and Canadian seed savers have been collaborating on the creation of an organization that could provide information, education, and best practice standards for communities wanting to create their own seed library. This group has been supported since its inception by Seed Savers Exchange (SSE), who have been an important ally and contributor to the conversation. SSE has worked with the group's leaders to develop a project concept, bringing in colleagues at USC to continue to support and grow the concept. The working group has broadened its scope to include not only seed libraries but also community seed banks, indigenous seed keepers and other local and regional seed saving initiatives.
This preliminary working group, now almost 2 years in the making, is beginning to extend its feelers out, to gather even more information about the diversity of seed collections operating in both Canada and America. A survey is currently being developed, and we envision the creation of a project website to launch the organization in late 2017. Following the launch of the new organization, the goal will be to connect and support community seed collections across the region by providing educational resources, organizational best practices, and opportunities for information sharing among its members
Donations Needed
The Cool Beans! Newsletter, and our social network at  have been financially supported by Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library for several years. We have significantly reduced our own funds by providing these resources. Thankfully, Seed Savers Exchange who is taking a leadership role in this movement by working with USC Canada to create a Community Seed Network helped by covering 2016 expenses. 

If you have appreciated the resources provided by Richmond Grows, including the "start a library" resources, please consider making a donation. A contribution of $40 pays for one issue of Cool Beans! All contributions large and small are greatly appreciated. 100% of your donations go to providing resources since we are a 100% volunteer organization. Donations are tax-deductible in the US.

Donate! *Help us grow a movement.
* Our fiscal sponsor is Urban Tilth. That is why you will see their name on the Paypal account.

Book Worm
The Seed Underground

In The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food, Janisse Ray weaves statistics and history with personal narrative and encourages readers to take ownership and seek a greater understanding of their food system. The author loves seeds as "metaphors for so much: innovation, potential,multiplication, plenty, the future." This love shines through from chapter to chapter whether exploring seed or personal histories. The book, part memoir and part field journal, is a wonderful introduction to the journey growers follow to save seeds. It would make a thoughtful addition to a library's collection for patrons interested in personal stories, history of seed ownership, and the never-ending quest for that perfect piece of produce. It was a joy to read while waiting for spring to begin!

Book review by  Madeline Jarvis, Ely Seed Library, Ely, Iowa, USA
Face, Place, Story
Graduate Student Seed Breeder - Travis Parker
Learn about bean breeding and how to get started as a plant breeder from University of California Davis graduate student Travis Parker. Travis studies traditional plant breeding with a focus on beans.
Bean Breeding with Travis Parker, UC Davis grad student
Bean Breeding with Travis Parker, UC Davis grad student

Honoring Origins and Seeding the Future
Santa Fe - It all begins with the planting of a seed. Truly.

These days, grocery shopping and eating out can be an arduous task, particularly if you care about any number of food- related topics - from the origins of your food, to the manner in which it was produced, to its attributes for your health, and so on. It's complicated. Mass marketing can be our enemy when it comes to knowing our food and understanding what we are eating.

As a result, more and more of us are reverting to the habits of our ancestors, be it going back to the basics of supporting our neighbors who farm and ranch, to raising our own gardens, to growing for small-scale markets or commercial sales, and to studying the roots - and seeds - of the vegetation that sustains us. And, it does really all begin with a seed.

Whether you are a backyard gardener and are just beginning to toy with the idea of saving the seeds from your resilient plants this coming season, an avid large-scale gardener and food preserver who sells to local markets, or you are actually into or considering getting into seed production, the Mountain West Seed Summit will have something for you! This unique conference will bring together "seed stewards," groups and individuals committed to preserving seed diversity, from the Mountain West region and beyond for three days of engagement in, learning and sharing of seed knowledge.

The Mountain West Seed Summit is organized to inspire, empower and train seed producers - from backyard and community gardeners to commercial farmers - from across the region, with an emphasis on traditional seed saving practices. As reflected in the Summit's sub-title, "Honoring Origins and Seeding the Future," the conference will highlight knowledge and skill on the interface between indigenous seed knowledge and contemporary approaches to sustainable seed saving and enterprises.

The convening will kick off on Thursday, March 2, with a pre-conference field trip/tour of northern New Mexico seed saving and production, including a stop at the Tesuque Pueblo Farm and Seed Bank, a seed bank located on the Pueblo's 70-acre farm featuring a diverse collection of traditional food and medicinal crop seeds from the Tesuque culture and around the world; as well as the Alcalde Research Center in Rio Arriba County, for a presentation on some of the latest research. The trip will also include a tour of the Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute, for a diverse, beautiful and well-rounded day of informal education.

The two-day Summit that follows on March 3 and 4 will inspire knowledge seeking, sharing and impartment among expert presenters from all around the country and participants of all levels and interests. But this will not be your typical conference, as it will include a seed exchange reception, yoga practice, and other activities that will help cultivate and enrich an ongoing seed community in the Rocky Mountain region.

The Mountain West Seed Summit is brought to you by the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, in partnership with Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and with generous sponsors such as La Montanita Food Co-op and the McCune Charitable Foundation.

For further information about the Summit or to register, please visit If you would like further information about being a sponsor or otherwise participating, or need help registering, please contact Lee-Ann Hill at or by phone at 970-560- 5486, or contact Susann Mikkelson at or by phone 575-418- 7657.

Seed Saving Courses
Mountain West Seed
March 2 - 4th 
Santa Fe, NM, USA
$195, + $65 field trip to Seed Bank  
$150 for Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union members, and NM residents.

Spring Seed Academy
Williams, OR, USA
May 3 - May 7
Seven Seeds Farm

Seed School
Denver, CO, USA 
April 2 - April 7
$650 DBG and RMSA members, includes lunch 
Field work at Chatfield and DeLaney Farms with Denver Urban Gardens. 

Seed School Teacher Training 
Denver, CO, USA 
Oct. 1 - Oct. 6
$650 early bird

500+ Open!
Sister Seed Libraries
- Have you opened?  
- Added branches?  
- Created a website?

Check the Sister Libraries List to see if your information is accurate and to find other libraries near you. Fill in this survey to help us keep the list accurate.

Seed Libraries Association
-  Resources on how to start & manage a seed library
-  Sister Seed Libraries pages
-  Inspirational projects associated with seed libraries
Seed Libraries Social Network
- Connect with bioregional libraries
-  Share ideas with folks with similar projects
Banner Photo
Zuni Gold 
Phaseolus vulgaris
Growner: Travis Parker, UC Davis
Photo credit: Rebecca Newburn