Seed Libraries Newsletter
Cool Beans!
 January - February 2016 - Issue #8
2016 Year of the Pulses
Happy 2016 and Year of the Pulses! The UN General Assembly has declared 2016 the Year of the Pulses. 

What are pulses?*
Pulses are annual leguminous crops yielding between one and 12 grains or seeds of variable size, shape and colour within a pod, used for both food and feed.  The term "pulses" is limited to crops harvested solely for dry grain, thereby excluding crops harvested green for food, which are classified as vegetable crops, as well as those crops used mainly for oil extraction and leguminous crops that are used exclusively for sowing purposes (based on the definition of " pulses and derived products" of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).

Pulse crops such as lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas are a critical part of the general food basket.  Pulses are a vital source of plant-based proteins and amino acids for people around the globe and should be eaten as part of a healthy diet to address obesity, as well as to prevent and help manage chronic diseases such as diabetes, coronary conditions and cancer; they are also an important source of plant-based protein for animals. 

In addition, pulses are leguminous plants that have nitrogen-fixing properties which can contribute to increasing soil fertility and have a positive impact on the environment. (2015 was Year of the Soil - then again, every year needs to be Year of the Soil!)
* from the 

How seed libraries & communities can celebrate?
- Educate people about pulses and their benefits.
- Highlight some of the pulses you grow. 
- Include some recipes using pulses in your newsletter or on-line.
- Use the Year of the Pulses logo.
- Get a bunch of people to grow out a pulse that is special to your community. Get some press to let people know that you are stewarding a special pulse for the benefit of the community. 

Make a New Year's Resolution - Get involved!

International Organization Steering Committee
We are in the process of creating an international organization to support the seed library movement. Are you committed to local seed and want to put some energy in to growing this movement?  If so, email us. We're looking for folks that can commit through to the beginning of this summer at which point we hope to have the organization groundwork established. We have about one phone conversation a month that lasts about 1.5 hours and then there may be different follow up tasks throughout the month between calls. 

Contribute to Cool Beans!
We need 4-5 people who are interested in regularly contributing the Cool Beans! Newsletter.  Ideally we would get a core group who creates the newsletter with regular and guest contributors. We would also love to have writers from different parts of the world. If you love seeds and enjoy writing, helping with Cool Beans! is a great way to show your passion.  Issues come out every two months. Email us if you want to contribute. These are things that we need:
1) Book Worms:  Love to read books? We need a couple people that are willing to write reviews of gardening and seed saving books. You can even choose the books!
2) Photos of Cool Beans!  Do you have any pictures of cool beans? Send them to us with the variety name, your name and any seed project you are affiliated with and the town, state/province, country.
3) Articles: If you want to share a project or idea, please send that too!
4) Feature a plant and seed saving requirements - Starting this issue with "Grow Wheat."
5) Seed Classes Posts: If you are offering an intensive seed saving course (a day long or longer), send us the title, city, state/province, country, dates, and a URL.
Submissions can be sent to

Grow Wheat
Utrecht Blue Wheat
Why grow wheat?
- It's super easy to grow and to save seeds.
- Most people don't grow wheat so there are many varieties that are rare and endangered and need to be stewarded.
- Non-organic wheat may be   sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) to help kill weeds or as a pre-harvest practice, especially true for spring wheats. Wheat that is close to being harvested is sprayed so that it can be harvested sooner.
- Growing wheat not only provides a high quality food source, but it also provides lots of "browns" for your compost. If you have animals, use it as bedding first then compost it.
- Many older varieties have lower gluten contents and may be easier for folks with gluten issues to eat.
- It's fun to grow wheat and then have friends over for homemade bread from homegrown wheat. What a treat!
- A 100 sq. ft. (9.3 sq. m) can yield up to 26 lbs. (11.6 kg) of wheat. According to John Jeavons' book, "How to Grow More Vegetables," if two crops of wheat a year were harvested from a 100 sq. ft. plot, this would be enough to make one 1-pound (o.45 kg) loaf of bread every week of the year!

- Wheat is extremely self-pollinating and only needs a minimum population of 20 plants!
- It only needs an isolation distance of 10-20 ft (3-6 m). So you can easily grow multiple varieties in one year.
- Seeds last 5-10 years allowing you to grow out different varieties each year and still offer seeds from previous years.
- Here is a video on harvesting and processing wheat from John Jeavon's farm. I found this method easy to do and a friend who grew wheat says that if there is a little chaff left on the wheat berries, it's still fine to cook with and grind up. Extra fiber!
- Understand what diseases can affect wheat.

Ways Seed Libraries can help
- Include saving wheat and other easy to save grains in your seed saving classes & brochures.
- Offer wheat and other grains in your collection; it's helpful to make pre-printed labels and have them available in the jars or envelopes.
Save rare and unusual varieties. See below.  
Feature an unusual or rare variety in a newsletter or in a display.
- Make wheat and other grains part of your grow out program or demonstration garden.
- Grow it in your front yard. It's beautiful!...and starts lots of interesting conversations with neighbors.

Consider finding rare and unusual varieties or even signing on to a Participatory Plant Breeding program to help develop new varieties using traditional plant breeding methods.  You've heard the expression, "separate the wheat from the chaff." You may want to focus on varieties that are easy to clean on the home scale. Here are just a few sources for seeds:
- Seed Savers Exchange - Seed Exchange (members only)
- Kusa Seed Society
- Bountiful Gardens
- Heritage Grain Conservancy
- Seeds of Diversity lists 82 wheat varieties and where to get them.
- SeedStor - Germplasm Resources Unit at John Innes Centre
If you know of other resources that carry rare wheat varieties, let us know and we'll include it in our next issue.

Additional Resources 
Grain School - Jan. 15-17, Colorado Springs, CO, USA 
Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon is an excellent resource
Community Grain Resources
5th Annual National Seed Libraries' Summit Report
Here are the minutes from the September 2015 5th Annual National (USA) Seed Libraries' Summit in Santa Rosa, California.  

Face Place Story
from consumerism to connection
In January of 2010, Rebecca Newburn, the Co-Founder of Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library and the editor of Cool Beans! Newsletter, had an intention to open a seed library and create an international seed library movement. There are now over 500 seed libraries open and another 1000 communities that have expressed an interest in opening a seed library! The Face Place Story video below is the new intention she is setting into the world. It is dedicated to Bill McDorman and Belle Starr and all of you fabulous change makers helping to bring a face, place and story back into the foods we eat.

How can seed libraries help?
- Include "Face Place Story" in your library by highlighting a seed and sharing about the face, place and story .
Find unusual and rare varieties that have a face, place and story. Share the seeds and history.
- Share this video with your community.

Share this vision? Have Ideas? Want to get involved?
If you have ideas about how to get this idea out or want to be involved in any way, please email Rebecca at The website will be forthcoming. (We need help with that too!)
Face Place Story
Face Place Story

Book Worm
The Seed Garden 
The Seed Garden  is a must have resource for seed libraries and public libraries. Published by Seed Savers Exchange this book has excellent information on seed saving including "Master Class" sections on key seed saving and processing techniques to record keeping and explanations on genotypes and phenotypes. It also has seed saving profiles for most common vegetable crops. They even give the recommended seed cleaning screens and three population sizes for each crop: viable seeds, variety maintenance and genetic preservation. The photos are both instructive and stunning and the book is a great gift for gardening friends too.

Seed Savers Exchange (SSE)  has graciously offered a discount to seed libraries. See ordering information below. If you have a seed initiative in the USA, you can apply for the SSE's Community Seed Resource Program Toolkit, which includes a free copy of the book, three seed screens, seeds and envelopes to help you launch your seed project.

Discount for Seed Libraries:
  • Coupon code: seedlibrarynetwork-10.
  • You will receive $10 off the price of the book. (FYI, It will be $10 off for the order, regardless of how many books they buy.)

Saving Our Seeds Research Project
Charlotte Dove, a community gardener and Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fund Fellow,  spent 10-weeks traveling in the US and Canada visiting community seed saving programs. Check out her amazing website highlighting some of inspiring projects she visited. 
Do It Green! Seed Library
Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Legislative Update
The American Association of Seed Control Officials (AASCO) Working Group on seed libraries has been meeting over the last few months. The working group consisted of Seed Control Officials, seed librarians and American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) members and representatives. The purpose of the working group was to write Recommended Uniform State Seed Law (RUSSL) language to address seed libraries.

The seed librarian representatives on the working group are satisfied with the language that the group came up with. The next step in the process is that the recommendations will be sent to all AASCO members for member approval. It is then up to individual state legislatures to enact legislation regulating seeds. Some states will adopt AASCO's recommendations verbatim and other states may introduce and adopt other language. One easy way to stay in the loop about new legislation is by visiting your state's legislature's website and searching for bills with the word "seed" or "seed sharing." If you learn of any legislation being proposed, please contact Neil Thapar, staff attorney at Sustainable Economies Law Center at so he can provide any assistance in advocacy or participating in the policymaking process. The recommendation from the working group is that seed libraries would be exempt from commercial regulations as well as from fines and penalties should poor quality seed be shared. The specific language will be shared once it is agreed upon by the working group that it can be made public. This is expected to be in the next month or so since many states are eager to resolve the seed library issue and allow us to save and share seeds.    

Monarchs & Milkweeds - How can you help?
It would be great to have local milkweed plants in seed libraries to support the Monarch Butterfly migration as well as educational information for our communities about how to support Monarchs. If folks are interested in collaborating to create support materials for seed libraries  around Monarchs or have other ideas on how to help Monarchs, please contact Rebecca Newburn at  
Borrowing & Returning Seeds
The model membership form has been slightly revised.  The purpose of the changes is to increase education around what types of  seeds can be saved and to make sure that there are no legal issues to the work we do. We need to clearly communicate that our seed libraries do not share commercial seeds that have the following labels:
  • hybrid, F, F1
  • GMO
  • PVP (Plant Variety Protection)

The revised membership form clearly states that we don't want or share these types of seeds.   It also includes the Safe Seed Pledge. 


Post a sign in your library or your website stating that seeds may not be up to commercial standards... and are grown with love like our ancestors have done for thousands of years. For a complete explanation of best practices for maintaining a seed library visit, Help us to continue to improve the quality of information. If you translate information or make changes that you think will benefit others, please email us.


Seed Saving Courses
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
January 15-17, 2016

Seed Saving Hacked Webinar - Free
January 19th, 6 PM MT
Webinar - Free
January 26th, 6 PM MT

Seed School On-Line
Feb. 9th - March 29th 6PM MT; 7 week series

Seed School in a Day
Coeur d'Alene, ID, USA
February 27th 

Seed School Teacher Training
Los Angeles, CA, USA
March 14-18th

5 Day Seed Academy
National Seed Swap Day - Sat. Jan. 31st
Register your seed swap.
Learn how to organize a seed swap.
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.

Discount Seed Books
Save $10 off your order of The Seed Garden Book
Coupon Code: seedlibrarynetwork-10
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
Great, Great Aunt Rosie's Italian Pole Bean
Phaseolus vulgaris
Photo credit: Rebecca Newburn