Pictured is the Canastota Public Library’s new seed exchange display.
By Elizabeth Totten
(Canastota, NY – April 2013) It’s spring and the Canastota Public Library is celebrating with something new. We’re starting The Canastota Seed Exchange. A Seed Exchange is just what you would imagine. The basic idea is that you come to the library and borrow seeds for free with the understanding that you will return twice the amount of seeds that you borrow at the end of the growing season.
Here’s how it works. You come into the library, browse our seeds and borrow some to plant at home. These might be vegetable, herb or flower seeds. You nurture and grow your seeds into healthy plants. Once the growing season is over, you let some go to seed and then return twice the amount of seeds, dried, in an envelope or baggie with an original label detailing the name and seed variety, your name and the year that the seeds were harvested.
Currently, we are only accepting open-pollinated seeds, heirloom seeds, and non-gmo seeds (genetically modified organisms). We cannot accept gmo seeds or hybrids. Right now, we are accepting donations to help get this seed exchange off to a strong start.
Why did the Canastota Library start a Seed Exchange? Canastota residents have long held a love for the land and growing of our own vegetables. Many of our ancestors worked the soil, including the local muck lands. Our staff felt that there was a great need for this type of resource in the community.
Currently, there are more than 60 seed libraries or exchanges in 23 states in the country. Some of the largest seed libraries in the United States include Richmond Grows in California, The Seed Library of Pima County Library in Arizona, and the Seed Library of Warren County, New Jersey. A seed library or exchange disseminates seeds to the public which preserves the shared plant varieties through propagation and sharing of the seeds. Seed libraries strive to maintain their collections through donations from its members. A common attribute of many seed libraries is to preserve agricultural biodiversity by focusing on rare, local and heirloom seed varieties.
The next time you stop by the Canastota Public Library, stop by our Seed Exchange section and browse the seeds we currently have on our shelves. Please join by filling out our Membership Form. Remember, you become a member when you borrow seeds to plant or donate seeds to our Seed Exchange Library. We also have many resources on planting, growing and harvesting your crops on display near our Seed Exchange. It’s spring…it’s time to start growing.
Elizabeth Totten provides public relations for the Canastota Public Library.