Seed Libraries Newsletter
Cool Beans!
June 2015 - Issue #6
Help Amend Seed Legislation
Letters of Support Needed!
Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) will be lobbying for an amendment to the Recommended Uniform State Seed Law (RUSSL) which will be updated at the Association of American Seed Control Officials' (AASCO) annual meeting this July. AASCO is an organization of seed regulatory officials from the United States and Canada. The
members meet annually to discuss mutual concerns of seed law enforcement, to be updated on new developments in the seed industry, and to update RUSSL, which the organization developed and maintains as a "model" law for states and federal programs. This law affects every seed library - and so we are asking every seed library to support SELC's proposed amendment, which will exempt non-
commercial seed sharing from the labeling and testing requirements under the model law.

Help support SELC's effort in amending RUSSL to exempt seed libraries!

If you represent a seed library, please complete this form to add your name to the letter of support that will be presented at the upcoming AASCO conference. To read the full letter, click here. Please complete this form by Friday, June 19th.

If you do not represent a seed library but you still want to send in a letter of support, please download the attached letter of support template, fill it out, and send it to SELC intern Carolyn at carolyn@theselc.orgSeed librarians, please also share this request for letters of support with your allies in food security, agriculture, permaculture, master gardeners, climate justice advocates and other relevant organizations. SELC will bring all of these letters to the AASCO meeting in July to show the widespread support for seed libraries to be exempt from commercial seed law.
Two Bills Passed!
Minnesota & Nebraska Protect Seed Libraries
It's been almost a year since the Simpson Seed Library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania received a letter from their state department of agriculture's Seed Control Officer saying they were out of compliance with state seed law. (Read more about the background .) Thanks to the amazing teams in Minnesota and Nebraska and the Sustainable Economies Law Center, two bills have passed their state legislatures exempting seed libraries from commercial seed library. Both have been signed into law!

Please sign the letter of support so we can share it with the American Association of Seed Control Officers.  You can also show your support by donating to the Sustainable Economies Law Center, who was instrumental in developing a response to this issue and in drafting legislation to keep seed libraries and sharing seed legal. Thank you SELC! Also a big thanks to Shareable and Seed Matters for their partnership in our national Save Seed Sharing Campaign.
International Seed Library Forum Post
Here is a blog post from Cindy Conner, author of Seed Libraries, about her experience at the International Seed Library Forum.

Book Worm:
Triumph of Seeds
Thor Hanson, 2015 


The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History
by Thor Hanson by Basic Books

Buy Now -
( Proceeds go to to pay for this newsletter service)

I know that the audience for this book report are all people who care about seeds. We are gardeners, farmers, seed savers, and maybe even seed breeders. We know how important seeds are. We plant them, nurture them, and collect them. We are the people who can hardly wait for seed catalogs to show up in our mailboxes when our garden beds are deep in snow! We know a lot about seeds, how they grow, how they propagate but do any of us really know how they evolved? Just how did seeds become seeds anyway?

The fascinating history and answers to seed evolution can be found in a new book by Thor Hanson called The Triumph of Seeds. The flyleaf bio tells us that Thor Hanson is a conservation biologist, Guggenheim Fellow, and a Switzer Environmental Fellow. Clearly he has the credentials to write about seeds and he does so in a very engaging manner. We learn the how, when, and why of seed development and what makes it so successful in so many ways but perhaps, for humans, the most interesting aspect of the book is in learning how certain seeds have affected the course of human history.

We probably all have at least a vague memory from high school social studies that the Age of Discovery was originally a search for easier access to the spices of the East such as nutmeg and pepper. In a chapter on the coffee bean we learn how and why plants use caffeine and how caffeinated beverages, especially coffee, provided the coffee house setting and the buzz for the Age of Enlightenment. Did you know that only oil futures generate more annual revenue than coffee? And we haven't even begun to discuss cotton yet.

Pick up a copy of the Triumph of Seeds from your local library or bookstore and prepare yourself for an informative, thought provoking, and delightful read about "How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, & Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History".  

Enid Hart Boasberg - Co-coordinator of the Concord Seed Lending Library, Concord, Massachusetts, USA 


Up Beet!
Increase Your Local Seed.
Start a Grow Out Program.

Start a Grow Out Program in your community to encourage people to commit to growing out seed for the seed library. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1.  Choose what plants you want to keep in your collection regularly. It is helpful to start by selecting plants  that are super easy  to save (ex. lettuce, peas,  beans & tomatoes). Choose varieties that you would like to have a whole bunch of in your collection based on your community's needs. You may want to steward plants that have historical or cultural significance in your community. You may also want to include squash, melons, peppers, eggplants and cucumbers that require a little extra seed saving knowledge, but can be properly saved by most home gardeners with a little training.
2.  Create a Google document of the varieties that you would like to make sure you regularly grow out. Here is the Grow Out Tracking Sheet from Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library.  Our list may be a bit ambitious. Since squash has a longer shelf life, we may decide to grown out varieties every 2-3 years, and we'll create a system of  rotation of when we grow out different varieties. Note: We are working on having downloadable envelopes on this form. This is a major upfront time investment, but it's worth it! The great thing about the Google document is that you can share it with folks (with "can view" privileges) and they can see the selection of seeds available and they can also read descriptions by clicking on the envelope links. We marked varieties in red that need to be grown out this year or as soon as possible. We also let folks know these were a priority.
3.  Promote the Grow Out Program. Invite members to grow out seed. We send out a newsletter with the link to the Grow Out Tracking Sheet and we explained the space requirements for lettuce, beans (pole and bush) and peas based on hexagonal (tightly packed) plantings. Share the list with Master Gardeners, school garden coordinators and also post on neighborhood listserves. Note: We only included the first name and maybe a last initial on the form. When folks agree to grow things out, we have a separate list with contact info and what they are growing - that is when I have the energy to create it. We do add them to a Google list called "Grow Out Program" so when fall and spring roll around, we send these folks a special email invitation to grow out things.
4.  Make it easy for beginners to help out and also make it easy to return seeds. When we send out our requests, we let them know we are providing the seeds, instructions on how to save them (we give them a brochure and time permitting, email them a link to the appropriate seed saving video) , provide a page of printed labels (from our Google Grow Out Tracking Sheet) and give them some empty envelopes. Have a box where folks can return seeds in the library. When they return seeds, pull out some for the next grow out season.

We'll be regularly featuring tips on how to increase the quality of seed in your collection and the amount of people returning seeds. We'd love to hear your ideas. Please email them to
Face, Place, Story
Stories from SeedBroadcast
SeedBroadcast and the Mobile Seed Story Broadcasting Station have been collecting the stories of seeds. SeedBroadcast is a collaborative project exploring grassroots seed action through collective inquiries and hands-on creative practices.  Throughout the year, they gather to discuss critical issues surrounding seed and food sovereignty, visit local farms and gardens to experience what is happening in the field, and engage in creative projects, to dig deeper into the real how-to's of local agri-culture. Listen to one of the powerful stories they recorded by Elizabeth Pantoha. They also put out an amazing collection of poetry, essays and thoughts in their SeedBroadcast agri-Culture journal. Submissions  and inquiries can be made to 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.
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
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.

Banner Photo
Negreta Fava Beans
Vicia faba
Photo credit: Rebecca Newburn