Heirloom seeds for common use
They're libraries filled with seeds!
Basically, seed libraries are a new take on an old tradition. Our ancestors had informal libraries within their communities back when everyone grew their own food and everyone saved seeds. Seeds saved from favorite plants (“heirlooms”) were passed down to children and swapped among neighbors.
In the last three generations (since WW II to now) fewer of us have been growing our food, and more of us have been buying seeds from big companies. Varieties are being lost, and not all plants do well everywhere.
Seed libraries help re-build a community storehouse of plant varieties that grow well right where we live. Seed libraries often become resource centers for sharing gardening and seed-saving skills and building community.
There are over 500 seed libraries in the US and hundreds more around the globe. Sharing seeds among libraries gives communities immediate access to adapted seeds in times of sudden, drastic changes in climate or pests. That’s why we call seed library projects “Seeds Without Borders”.
Having access to an abundant variety of plant seeds adapted to your climate and geography is central to your community’s ability to feed itself. Variety allows a community to weather unexpected climate or pests - one type of winter squash might survive a climate trend toward early frosts or drought better than others; one type of corn might resist a new corn mold that blows in and takes hold, while all other corn varieties succumb.
In the US alone we’ve lost over 96% of the varieties of agriculturally important crops in the last 100 years (4 generations). We’ve lost these varieties because the seeds are not being saved or planted anymore.
Selecting, saving and sharing seeds is how our ancestors created the abundance of food we enjoy today. Following in their footsteps, and teaching each other, together we can rebuild our seed variety wealth in a couple generations. It’s that easy and simple.
Check out this infographic on the loss of seed diversity [PDF].
All seeds have a story to tell.
Their story is about where they like to grow, when they like to grow, what they offer the world, and what they need in return. They keep their story in their genetics, and they LOVE to share that story with others, by growing and making more seeds. Every time they produce a plant and make more seeds, they add more stories to their genetics of how to grow in a changing climate. Every viable plant seed we hold in our hand is a record keeper holding a treasure trove of information.
Humans have been listening to and cultivating these seed stories for probably ten thousand years. Our ancestors started by sowing seeds of wild plants and saving seeds from progeny that did well, then planting those seeds, and saving from the best plants those seeds produced. They selected for flavor, nutrition, size, storability and adaptability. They selected plants that produced quality string or dyed our cloths pretty colors; that healed our cuts or settled our tummies. In this way communities around the globe developed tens of thousands of varieties of agriculturally and medicinally important crops and helped build a veritable Library of Congress of information in each and every seed we use today.
In the last 100 years or so, the breadth of those stories has narrowed alarmingly. As humans have come to rely on the industrial farming practice of monocultures, many varieties and their stories of how to grow in different climates and conditions have been lost. The good news is that we can get the stories back. All we have to do is repeat our ancestors’ community practice of selecting, saving and sharing seeds, and we can rebuild the library. The seeds already know how to write the stories. It’s in their DNA.
We believe in our inalienable right to open-pollinated, non-GMO seeds for common use. This is how our ancestors thrived for millennia and how we will sustain ourselves and our great-great-great-great grandchildren. Re-establishing the community practice of selecting, saving and sharing seed is at the core of resiliency. Helping re-establish that practice is why the Good Seed Company exists.
We started almost 40 years ago, a single family growing its food and medicine ecologically, saving heirloom seeds from plants that did well in their off-grid Zone 3/4 homestead in the pristine Okanagan Highlands of northeastern Washington and selling these seeds to neighbors and fellow gardeners in the area.
Today, we are a growing cadre of gardeners and farmers in Montana and northeastern Washington, growing food, flowers and medicine in our urban backyards and rural farms, saving seeds from our favorite plants, and sharing these with our neighbors around the corner and around the globe. Our goal is help rebuild our community’s storehouse of seed varieties so we all can continue enjoying abundant food and health.
Learn more our community seed saving project at Seed Library: Seeds Without Borders.
Our regionally adapted heirloom and open-pollinated non-GMO seeds are selected for their homestead, permaculture, and polyculture value. In practical terms, we select for:
We sell over 180 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, garlic, pollinator flowers, medicinal and culinary herbs, and of course veggies galore! We particularly like multipurpose plants and useful perennials.