Borrow – Grow – Share: St Thomas Seed Library

Books, DVDs, Free Food…whoah. Let’s take a step back, free food at the library? Well, almost! With the recent rise of food prices, increasing popularity of homesteading and impending zombie apocalypse…growing your own food has never been a better idea in this modern age!

Introducing…The St. Thomas Seed Library! Launching on Monday, February 29, 2016!

St Thomas Seed Library Logo

The St. Thomas Seed Library is a repository of open-pollinated (mainly heirloom) seeds which are held in trust for members of the St. Thomas Public Library. Members come to the library and borrow seed for their garden. They grow the plants in their garden and at the end of the season, they let a few plants ‘go to seed.’ From those plants, they collect seeds and return the same amount of seed (or more) as they borrowed at the beginning of the growing season. Seeds are free to members.

The library is both a collection of seeds and a community of gardeners. Since seed is a living thing, it must be renewed each year somewhere by someone or unique varietals can become extinct. Even growing one seed and returning it to the library is a valuable contribution.

Humans have been saving seeds for over 12,000 years. Sadly, in our culture much of the knowledge about seed saving has been lost over the last hundred years, along with significant biodiversity. When you contribute to our seed library, you help create a culture of sharing and abundance whilst contributing to the sustainability of our community.

Seed saving requires some basic knowledge, but really anyone can get the hang of it. We hope to encourage our library patrons to develop the knowledge needed in order to help preserve the unique varieties and amazing agrobiodiversity contained in our catalogue, and to build this catalogue for future generations. We hope that by beginning small, people will realize how easy, and truly necessary, it is to save seeds.

The idea of creating a seed-lending library at the St. Thomas Public Library was inspired by Elgin County’s Local Food Plan – “the County’s new initiative to strengthen and support local food production by raising awareness of the benefits of local food and making it easier for purchasers and consumers to buy and use local produce.”

Our Mission Statement

To educate our community in the importance of seed saving while fostering a culture of sharing, self-reliance, and community resilience, preserving and perpetuating Elgin County’s rich agrarian roots.

The Safe Seed Pledge

Finally, we honour the Safe Seed Pledge, a document signed by those in the agriculture and public health community concerned about the social, ethical, and environmental impact of genetic technologies, which reads:

Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, We pledge that we do not knowingly buy, sell or trade genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.” ~ Council for Responsible Genetics, 1999

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