April 23rd, 2024

Viva Vitality: Seed exchanges and seed libraries – a community resource

By Alison Van Dyke on March 28, 2024.

Experienced gardeners begin their gardening season early, when the first of the seed house and nursery catalogues arrive in the mail in the cold and dark of winter. We start compiling the list of seeds and plants to try when spring arrives, plotting out what we’re going to grow in the new year and starting plants indoors that require a longer growing season.

By the time May long weekend rolls around, the traditional planting weekend of the prairies, most gardeners have stockpiled a supply of seeds and starts ready to go into the ground. One way to help ensure success in your growing season is by sharing and starting seeds saved by local gardeners.

Seed saving and exchanging serves multiple purposes. Saving seeds and sharing them with your friends and neighbours helps prevent food insecurity and biodiversity loss by growing varieties of fruits and vegetables that are proven to survive and thrive in your local environment. Saving and sharing seeds is also an affordable option to purchasing seeds and starts through nurseries and seed houses.

More often we are seeing local libraries offering seed exchanges as part of their community offerings. These seed exchanges give gardeners the opportunity to try seeds that have been saved from harvests that have survived a growing season in the local climate and environment, which means they’re much more likely to be successful for new and experienced gardeners.

Saving and sharing seeds through seed exchanges can also help preserve rare varieties. Specific heritage varieties of seed can be difficult to find, and sharing those seeds in your community means that they will continue to be available when seed houses no longer carry them.

Be sure to check if your local library has a seed exchange, and then consider what varieties you grow that you could share with other local gardeners through the exchange.

Alison Van Dyke is the food security co-ordinator with Community Food Connections Association. For more information, visit foodconnections.ca

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