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Modest proposal for starting local seed banks  RSS feed

 
Ann Torrence
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Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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I subscribed to John Sherck's newsletter when I bought some seeds from him. (excellent germination, BTW) He just sent out a link on how he is organizing a local seed bank, with a modest proposal that others consider doing similar work in their locales.

Here would be a good place to list such efforts, support new ones, and discuss organizing strategies that work.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Location: Pacific Northwest
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When you said, "Modest Proposal," the classic satirical essay of the same name by Jonathan Swift came to mind, http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html. I thought there had to be something satirical about your post, especially since you posted on April Fools. It's neat to see that it isn't a joke, and there are seed banks in the making.

I did a quick search for seed banks in my area (my toddler needs to go to bed now, so I don't have much time), and here are some I found:

http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/rarecare/ssseedbank.shtml

http://seedsherenow.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KingCoSeed

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I operate a seed bank. It's operation is approximately like this:

I grow nearly all the seed that I need for my farm. A single seed crop can produce enough seed to last me for the rest of my life if stored properly. (So I could grow seed for many varieties of squash if I isolated them by year...)

I divide the seed into multiple lots. I store some in the barn. I store some at home. I store some at the homes of friends and family. I store some in the freezer. I store some in the fridge. I store some at room temperature. That way the seed stays safe in spite of my personal life... I can get divorced, or foreclosed, or raided, or burned, or flooded at one location and the other locations may still be safe. I store the seed in jars that are impervious to mice and insects.

I prepare archived copies of my entire garden and send it to friends or collaborators. They can bank it, or plant it, or give it away. I share seeds widely for individual varieties. More than a few times I have lost seeds, or had a crop failure. Seeds have come back to me from this sharing/collaboration network.

I cooperate with another lady in my valley that also grows a lot of seed. We work together to develop varieties that thrive in our valley.

I simplify seed saving by combining many different varieties into a single seed lot... For example with common beans I maintain "Dry Bush Beans" and "Snap Beans". There might be 100 varieties in my dry bush beans but when they are cooked it's really hard to tell the difference between a 15 bean soup mix grown as separate varieties and a 100 bean soup mix grown as a blend.

Beans: Grown as a blend.


My tomatoes are divided into two types "Early Saladette Tomatoes", and "Slicing/Canning Tomatoes". There might be many different varieties/genotypes in each lot, but they conform physically to types that I need on my farm.

Tomatoes: Really hard to tell saladette varieties apart.


I love promiscuous pollination between varieties, because it allows me to play the genetic lottery much more frequently so that I can find family groups that really thrive in my garden in spite of the ever changing weather, pests, and diseases. My seed bank focuses on saving real diversity: Hundreds of named varieties contributed genetics to my sweet corn. The individual named varieties are long since gone, but each year I save seeds for perhaps a half million different genetically diverse varieties of corn, because each seed on my farm is unique from all others.

Astronomy Domine Sweet Corn:


The history and stories don't matter to me. Keeping a variety stuck in the past doesn't appeal to me. What motivates my seed saving is the future. I am part of a ten thousand year old tradition of seed saving. Seed purity is a very recent fad which I expect will fade quicker than it arose. I have the opportunity to easily collect diversity. I can easily preserve that diversity at the allele level so that ten thousand years from now it might be useful to some other seed saver. As an example: I am working on extending the range of a number of tropical crops to higher elevations. I expect that the alleles that allow that sort of growth will be valued in the future and that others will extend the range even further.

First really successful Mixta squash harvest after 5 years of failure.

 
Alexander Shandibun
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Nicole Alderman wrote:When you said, "Modest Proposal," the classic satirical essay of the same name by Jonathan Swift came to mind, http://art-bin.com/art/omodest.html. I thought there had to be something satirical about your post, especially since you posted on April Fools. It's neat to see that it isn't a joke, and there are seed banks in the making.

I did a quick search for seed banks in my area (my toddler needs to go to bed now, so I don't have much time), and here are some I found:

http://depts.washington.edu/uwbg/rarecare/ssseedbank.shtml

http://seedsherenow.com/

https://www.facebook.com/KingCoSeed



thanks, normal bank!
 
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