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Back to March 2014 Newsletter

Micro-Seedbanking: How to Set Up Your Own Community Seed Bank

Thinking of creating your own seed bank? Here is a new resource from Seeds of Diversity and the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security that outlines the main steps.

Whether your seed collection is big enough for a walk-in freezer, or small enough for a shoe-box; whether it is a personal collection or a shared community collection, you want your seeds to last as long as possible in storage, and you want to use the best methods for testing, organizing, and labeling. This primer was written for you, with the best seed conservation methods we know of that can be achieved in a house, office, public library, or community center, at a minimum cost.

You've probably read about government seed banks; giant cold-storage vaults with hundreds of thousands of seeds stored for decades in fire-proof, bomb-proof, and flood-proof facilities. Those seed banks house immeasurably valuable crop genetics that are an essential part of humanity's long-term food sustainability, but they focus on security, not on broad public access. Conservation seed banks can keep seeds viable and safe for decades, but only in tiny quantities. The reason is simple. Major seed banks store hundreds of thousands of varieties of seeds, so they only have enough room for mere grams of each variety. If we ever need to use those seeds, they'll have to be grown and multiplied for several years before even one field can be planted.

Seeds of Diversity backs up its seed collection with the Canadian government Plant Gene Resources seed bank, for safety and long-term back up, but that's only a precaution, not the real point of our collecting effort. We want to re-introduce and re-circulate thousands of varieties of seeds that aren't available from any commercial seed companies. Putting them in a vault is important, but getting them out into communities is our real goal.

That's why micro-seedbanks matter. If you and your friends can keep a well-managed seed collection in your community, then you can control your own seed security, and adapt it to your region's needs. We're here to help you learn how.

 

Micro-Seedbanking: A primer on setting up and running a community seed bank

  • Storage Conditions
  • Drying Seeds for Storage
  • Containers for Seed Storage
  • Labelling and Seed Information
  • Germination Tests

Download PDF

 

We've gathered the best practices from seed banking protocols used around the world, and developed simple methods based on strong science. Amazingly, you can run a very effective seed bank with basic household items and little expense. The key is to understand your seeds' storage needs, and to keep your collection well labeled and organized.

Community-based seed collections create a local supply of seeds for field testing and multiplication, a concrete way for local growers to learn from each other, help preserve the genetic stocks of locally bred and locally adapted varieties, and involve people in the crucial work of conserving and multiplying their local seeds.

You can use the same principles and practices for any seed collection, of any size, even your own leftover seeds, even just a shoebox full.

 

If you would like to dig even deeper, check out our new and updated guide on How to Save Your Own Seeds.

 

Back to March 2014 Newsletter

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