The seeds of my favourite winter squash were piling up nicely on a piece of paper towel last fall. I was feeling slightly smug that I remembered to save them from my favourite variety and best formed, biggest, strongest looking fruit. As a novice seed saver I was filled with deep contentment as my involvement with gardening developed another layer of knowledge. Knowing these meaty seeds were destined to produce healthy vigorous plants the following year, heavy with fruit that will produce hundreds of seeds made me oh-so-happy.
But wait. What about cross pollination? What about carrying disease! What if I germinate these seeds into perfect seedlings that results in some funky summer-winter alien squash that I pass along to friends who grow them into unusable alien plants with non-viable freaky coloured offspring! Maybe those tomato seeds that I scraped off my cutting board while making my BLT from my prize black krims were not processed correctly and were carrying blight. Blight that I inadvertently spread to my BFF’s garden when I lovingly babied seedlings to give to her! I am SO not qualified for this position.
I need a seed saving guru.
Reality check. Although there definitely is a science behind saving seeds, at the end of the day, it is just food (that most of us can buy at the grocery store if it fails). It is just plants and screwing things up and learning through winning and losing is all part of the learning process. Trying and failing is still learning. Not knowing all the answers and going ahead anyways is OK.
Carrying disease is of course a big deal and needs to be considered and taken seriously, but seed saving is one of those things that you can just jump into with both feet.
Seed libraries across the world report that being afraid of failure is a big barrier for people to get involved.
Stewardship Pemberton and the Pemberton Public Library are proud to announce that we have started a community seed library.
Here is how it works. Borrow. Save. Share.
Repeat every year, for generations to come (seeds and humans). You “borrow” seeds the same way you do books at the library. You then grow the plants, save the seeds. Clearly label and bring the seeds back to the seed library (extras would be great) so our library is always refreshed and continues to grow for our entire community.
If you are just starting out, focus on a couple of easy seeds to save. This includes: peas, beans, lettuce, tomatoes and peppers. All produce seed the same season as planted and are mostly self-pollinating, minimizing the need to be mindful of preventing cross-pollination.
Seed library’s increase community capacity to learn about growing their own food. Seed saving is a vital skill that has been lost as so many of us have lost our connection to growing our own food. Like many back-to-the-land activities, that knowledge has recently skipped a generation or two. Plants that are grown in a select region over time become better adapted to local conditions and are stronger. Seed library’s provide free access to seeds – and food. They save people money! They encourage people to dive deeper, to think and talk about things like food sovereignty, food justice, and food sustainability – on a community scale. Seed libraries bring people closer together to work on a collective community project – that can help with feelings of social isolation and lead to increased levels of happiness. Uber awesome.
So come and “check out” the seed library anytime! Save your seeds from this years harvest and donate to our seed library/seed bank. And IF you are a seed saving guru with time on your hands, we are actually looking for a volunteer to give us a hand.