Seed Libraries Newsletter
Cool Beans!
March-April 2015 - Issue #4
International Seed Libraries Forum 
May 3-6, 2015
Tuscon, Arizona, USA
Register here.
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The goal of the four-day event is to bring together experts from public libraries, nonprofits, universities, and food banks across the United States and in other countries to further improve access and management of local seed resources. The forum highlights the increasingly important role that seed libraries play in creating best practices for seed saving and seed sharing at the community level. Panel discussions will cover a wide range of topics including:
increasing the quality, and diversity of community seed resources, establishing seed library protocols, documenting the seed library movement, increasing access for low income households, and nurturing the next generation of seed savers in school gardens. The forum also addresses recent regulatory challenges to seed library operations in five states.

The event kicks off with a field trip to the Mission Garden, a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit trees, local heirloom crops, and edible native plants.

Other events include a community seed swap and a screening of the documentary, "Seeds of Time," followed by a Q & A session with agricultural policy expert Cary Fowler. The closing event features a celebration to benefit the Jardin Botanico de Oaxaca and the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace with tamales, local music, and the pre-release of the May/June 2015 issue of Edible Baja Arizona magazine. Complete schedule will be posted soon at the Pima County Public Library website.

The forum is free, and the online pre-registration deadline is April 17. Registration is limited to 120 participants, and some events will be open to the public.
  •  Seed Swap, May 3 (Free)
  • "Seeds of Time" Screening, May 3  (Free for registered participants and General Admission price for the public)
  • Celebration of Seeds Literary Reading, May 4 (Free and open to the public)
  • Closing Event Celebration, May 5 ($25 for registered participants and the public)

Confirmed speakers include:
Gary P. Nabhan - Author of Enduring Seeds, W.K. Kellogg Sustainable Food Systems Endowed Chair,
Southwest Center at the University of Arizona
Cary Fowler Author of Shattering, Inspiration behind the Svalbard ("Doomsday") Seed Vault in Norway, Agriculture Policy Expert/Senior Advisor, Global Crop Diversity Trust
Scott Chaskey - Author, Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics and Promise of Seeds
Cindy Conner - Author, Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People
Ken Greene - Founder, Hudson Valley Seed Library, NY
Justine Hernandez  - Seed Librarian, Pima County Public Library, AZ
Rebecca Newburn -Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library
John Torgrimson - Executive Director, Seed Savers Exchange
Save Seed Sharing Campaign Update
In response to the bizarre application of commercial seed law to seed libraries, a Minnesota, Illinois, and Nebraska have already had legislation introduced to their state legislatures to exempt seed libraries from commercial seed law. Here is some further background on the issue. A huge thanks to the different communities for stepping up to protect their right to save seeds, Shareable, and Sustainable Economies Law Center. If you haven't already done so, sign the Save Seed Sharing petition and share it with your community.  We're excited to announce that the petition will  be hosted at Seed Matters, a Clif Bar Family Foundation, starting April 6th. The above link will still work so please do share it.
Cool Beans! Wants your feedback for future editions
Take a few minutes to fill in our survey to help us to know what you'd like for upcoming editions of Cool Beans! and to see who would like to contribute. Thanks! Domain Available
Former University of California at Santa Cruz Demeter Seed Librarian, Devon Grissim, is selling the domain name. If you are interested, email her at It expires July 1, 2015. It would be great to keep the domain name in the community.

Book Worm:
Where Our Food Comes From, Retracing Nikolay Vavilov's Quest to End Famine,
Gary Paul Nabhan, 2009 Island Press

     In the 1920's through the 1930's, Nikolay Vavilov traveled the world, searching for crops that could stop the starvation rampant in the newly formed Soviet Union. His work gave the whole world a much deeper and cohesive understanding of diligent humans that bred varieties of their favorite foods throughout centuries. In Gary Paul Nabhan's

he takes us on Vavilov's journeys to distant lands discovering the origins and diversity of our foods. Vavilov realizes this diversity is not merely chance, but the evidence of human craft and skill. Vavilov brings back large amounts of seeds, roots and fruit to his center in Leningrad. Nabhan follows Vavilov's journeys through apples in Kazakhstan, corn in Mexico, wild wheat in the Levant and in other places where our food originated.

     Vavilov's work, in part, gifted us with the largest seed bank in the world long before the term had even been coined. His work set the stage for our present day cosmology of the food world.

     Nabhan writes well paced prose that is easy to read. We learn valuable lessons about our food, seeds and the preservation of varieties as we follow him following Vavilov. We benefit by knowing more about Vavilov and his work, especially for those working with seed libraries and seed security. Here is the man who brought seed banks and varietal preservation into global practice and contemporary science.

Up Beet!
Taos Seed Exchange
Growing through Sharing
7 Seed Exchanges - incl. in Habitat for Humanity ReStore

     In 2013, inspired by the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library and Eating in Public, I started the Taos Seed Exchange in Taos, New Mexico, USA. It is a free community service for home gardeners to swap seed. Exchange stations are set up in progressive businesses around the region for the growing season. It's a perpetual seed swap! 

     In March, I sponsor an annual one-day seed swap. Hundreds of gardeners and farmers from northern New Mexico come and share their seed and their knowledge. 

Throughout the season, I field questions from new and experienced gardeners. I want them to be self-sufficient, teaching them everything from how to start seeds to how to put up food for winter. Food security begins at home. 

In 2014, I started selling Renee's Garden Seeds at the exchange locations. I also created a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA )of starts and seeds for spring delivery. Plants and seeds are open pollinated or heirloom, so my customers can save the seed. 

     This year, several people contacted me for seed donations for new seed libraries and exchanges. I was thrilled to share my remaining stock of Renee's to get these projects off the ground.

     Anyone can start a seed exchange or library. I outlined my experiences, which can be downloaded from my website: Feel free to contact me. I am happy to share information! 

    The Taos Seed Exchange has been built on donations of seed, money, and energy from kind, loving, and generous people. Gardeners are a wonderful lot! This project has been the most rewarding thing I've ever done. I feel blessed.

Nan Fischer
growing through sharing

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
Bean Display
Seed Folks Seed Library, Oakland, California, USA
Photo credit: Keri Keifer