The Seed Lending Library at Hampshire College is the result of a collaborative effort between Hannah Haskell (F’08) and the Harold F. Johnson Library. It was created to give the Hampshire community access to organic and non-genetically engineered seeds, free of charge. The library also serves as a resource for hopeful growers who wish to learn more about sustainable farming and gardening practices, specifically the practice of seed saving.
For millennia humans have been selectively breeding heartier plants by saving their seeds each season. This cultivation process has not only sustained mankind, but also countless varieties of food crops, flowers, and medicinal plants for generations. Today, if you look at the produce section of your local grocery store you won't find much variety at all. This is because in recent years, agroindustrial farming has been eradicating lesser-known varieties in favor of those that are more marketable (i.e., larger, sweeter, more brightly colored). Between 1900 and 2000 it is estimated that over 75% of the world's plant genetic diversity was lost to the rise of monoculture farming (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 1999). The good news is that since then, more and more people have recognized these losses and are taking action to preserve the remaining diversity. Seed libraries are a great way to keep local varieties alive and growing!
The Seed Lending Library at Hampshire College serves as a small-scale home for the preservation of locally adapted plant varieties as well as a way to preserve the knowledge of seed saving among local growers. Over time, as they are checked out, grown, and returned, the seeds in the library will evolve to thrive in local conditions, creating a stronger, heartier collection. So check out a packet or two, grab your gardening gloves, and get ready to reap what you sow!
Want to know more about saving seeds? Check out the resource above, by Hannah Haskell (F'08) - the Official Guide of the Hampshire College Seed Lending Library!