“Seed Saving is the most important thing to do in our time”
— Vandana Shiva, Seed Activist
According to a public service announcement by One Million Seed Savers, the statistics of vegetable seed varieties since the 20th century are alarming.
• 100 years ago, 408 varieties of tomatoes existed. Today, there are only 79 left.
• 100 years ago, 497 varieties of lettuce existed. Today, 36 are left.
• 100 years ago, 288 varieties of beets existed. Today, 16 are left.
Since COVID-19 swept through our nation’s and the world’s health and economy over the last few months, we have seen the importance of making drastic decisions regarding our lifestyle for the future. An invisible enemy suddenly turned the world upside down in a matter of days or weeks into toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortages with a worse prediction ahead: food shortages.
April 8 marked the first anniversary of Show Low Public Library’s Seed Library developed and curated by Maizie McMillan. White Mountain Community Garden is a proud partner with the library which is the brainchild of Maizie and Sandra Murray, past Vice President of WMCG.
A seed library is similar to checking out books but the difference is, patrons check out seeds to plant in their home garden. When the fresh food is harvested, a couple plants are left to continue to grow, mature and go to seed. The saved seeds are returned to the library to replenish the supply. The plan is to build a seed reserve for area gardeners.
The idea of starting a seed library was on members’ minds but Sandra forged ahead with Maizie to get it started and everything fell into place with additional WMCG members, Kris Coates, Ann Cameron and Vicki Matsumonji joining to develop lists, provide seeds for the inventory and develop a seed saving curriculum for classes held at the library free of charge.
The classes included an “Introduction to Savings Seeds” and the Seed Library on April 8, 2019, followed by a Seed Saving Workshop, Tea Making Workshop with Sunshine Herbs, Tomato Tasting, and Bee Informed Festival. The classes morphed into a series of Gardening 101 classes presented this January and February, taught by Kris Coates (Master Gardener and Certified Arborist) and held free of charge at the library.
Due to COVID-19, physical classes were canceled but the good news is, virtual classes are available on Show Low Public Library’s Facebook page/Videos (produced by Show Low TV). Viewers can type comments and ask questions that are answered by Kris.
Show Low Public Library received donations of seeds from patrons including many flower varieties such as Marigolds, Hollyhocks, Calendula, Bee Balm, Wildflowers and vegetables such as Swiss Chard, Blue Hubbard Squash, and varieties of beans, peas, squashes, herbs.
Current report on seed packets
There are 1,141 total packets of seeds (2019 + resupply this year).
Patrons have signed out 538 packets to date. So far, seeds from harvests have not been returned. However, there are a couple of factors to explain this: the program is new for many people who are learning the basics of gardening and the virus did not help with progress.
There are plans ahead through a Library Services & Technology Act Grant named, “Weed It & Reap”, to expand the seed library materials and hold future classes specifically targeted to growing food and saving seeds.
Check these out:
• Seed Library Catalog at https://www.showlowaz.gov/919/Seed-Library
— Go online to see what’s available.
• Seed Library Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/slplseedlibrary/
If you have questions about the seed library and classes, contact Maizie by email: email@example.com or call the Library at 928-532-4070.