What is a seed bank?
A community seed bank is a network of seed saving and exchange, a site for exercising Seed Freedom. Seeds are collected, saved, grown out, multiplied, selected, distributed …and the cycle continues, the circles of freedom keep expanding.
Seed banks are also called seed Libraries, where you can borrow seed like you borrow a book, and return on reading (growing and multiplying).Some communities, especially in Europe and USA, also have heritage seed savers who grow and distribute heritage seeds at a cost.
How do I set up my own?
First, start collecting the seeds in your region. If you are saving seeds in pots, keep it in a cool and dry environment to prevent any damage. Similarly it is important to label the pots with the details of the seed variety contained in it (like the name of the variety, particulars of the variety e.g. drought tolerance etc). If you are planting the seeds, make sure you are able to identify the varieties cultivated (for instance, by labeling the plants). Similarly, save a portion of the seed before replanting the variety.
If you are a school, start saving seeds by setting up a “garden of life” to save seeds of freedom. If you are in a community, start a “garden of hope” as a community seed bank. If you are associated with a temple, church, mosque, gurudwara, start a seed sanctuary or distribute seeds as a blessing.
What You Need To Start A Seed Bank
You don’t need a lot of money or supplies to start a community seed bank. Aside from a dedicated group of people to organize and implement it, you need three things:
a suitable place to store the seeds
a way of making the seeds accessible to the community
You’ll also need supplies to store and organize the seeds, such as jars or containers, envelopes, and labels.
If you’re just starting out, you probably can fit the whole seed bank on a couple of shelves in a library, community centre or other public space. As the seed bank grows, you may need to meet the challenge of acquiring more space. The physical requirements are simply a place that is protected from exposure to humidity and moisture, insects and rodents, and extreme heat.
Making Seeds Available
If you’re able to share seeds and educate the community about the importance of saving seeds, preserving food diversity and sharing local seed varieties, you have met the goals of a seed bank.
Encouraging Seed-Bank Participation
As with any community organization, networking is essential to building the seed-bank community. The easiest way to contact numbers of people with an interest in growing food is to reach out to local gardening or agriculture related groups, such as:
elementary, middle and high Schools
local nurseries (for seed or other donations)
seed companies (for seed donations)
A seed swap is the perfect antidote to cabin fever in the winter, and there’s little doubt you’ll have trouble attracting people to an event where you are giving things away for free. While the people are looking through and collecting their seeds, make sure to have flyers for future events, seed bank hours, seed starting information and sign-up sheets for those who are interested in volunteering to help.
Many people who are interested in growing plants from seeds don’t actually know how to do it. A seed-starting workshop is a great way to attract new gardeners, or those who have previously bought plants to grow in their garden but are curious about growing from seed.
Later in the season, a seed-saving workshop will help people learn how to harvest and save their own seeds—and give some back to the seed bank if you want to accept community donations.