Click here to donate
About us


Book Review: Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People
By Cindy Connor, Review by Matt Drewno

Book Cover - Seed Libraries and other means of keeping seeds in the hands of the people by Cindy Connor

Seed saving is a critical component of our local food system, but how many communities can say they supply even a small amount of the seed that becomes the food on their tables? Not long ago, the food we ate came from the seeds we grew, and saved. In today’s world of consumerism and local foodies, most of the food varieties we eat are now hybrids—seeds which are produced and sold by companies with profit in mind, and not always considerate of nutrition and the health of our soil or communities.

For some, seed saving is a revolutionary act. For others, its just fun and exciting. The majority of the variety that we have remaining (we have lost over 90% of our food varieties in the last 150 years) we owe to the small grower and backyard gardener. It’s the small grower and backyard gardener who have placed quality over everything else, and had the skill and love to work with these plants to bring about new varieties in the endless cooperative and nurturing relationship we find in the garden.

Cindy Conner’s book Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People (New Society Publishers, 2014) is a marvelous accounting of the blossoming movement of seed savers growing around the country. Today, in libraries and gardens across the US and in other countries, people are sharing seeds, information, and the love of gardening. And its free! Many of our libraries now have seeds which you can check out like books, in the hope that you also return some of the seed you save to keep the abundance flowing. This book is an inspiring and detailed account of the seed library movement. It provides tips for saving your own seed and resources to help connect you to the seed saving movement. It is also a guide for those who wish to start a seed bank or seed library of their own.

The information in this book is well organized, well presented and inspiring. Cindy comes at the topic from her own personal experience in a way that is very relevant to seed-saving as a part of GB (she has been certified as a GROW BIOINTENSIVE teacher and is an experienced seed saver in her own right). I found this passage in her book to sum up her optimism:

Some people think that the systems in our society are breaking down. I guess that’s one way to look at it. In reality, systems need to change to stay relevant to the conditions at hand. It takes a special person to venture out of the norm and be the catalyst of a change that needs to happen. Thank you to all the pioneering souls who have already ventured into the realm of putting seeds back in the hands of the people. Also, thank you to those just beginning the adventure—the readers of this book—together we will make a difference.”

A word of caution: having enjoyed the company of many engaged in this wonderful movement, I have to warn you, the seed librarians around the country are a warm and welcoming bunch. But I believe they are up to something… something big. Not only do they make good friends, but they are always plotting their next seed swap. And if you get invited to one of their potlucks, be ready: not only are they brilliant gardeners, community organizers, and seed savers, they are wonderful cooks too!

top | Newsletter Home |Table of Contents| Archive

Please donate $40 to our 40th Anniversary Fundraiser! Click here to donate!