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Hi, I'm Malcolm Woods

I’m the New Media Editor at Outpost, though I’m the old media editor, as well. In both capacities, I read, hear, photograph and write about food. I also eat food pretty regularly, all of which means I spend a lot of time thinking about food in...
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Malcolm Woods

A good idea to cultivate

Postscript
Food, Love and Policy By Malcolm Woods on January 18, 2011

A network of community gardeners in Berkeley has come up with a great idea we think might help foster biodiversity and help local public libraries stay vital.

 

The Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (BASIL - fun, huh?) houses a growing collection of locally-sourced vegetable, herb and flower seeds that is available to local gardeners free of charge. The only requirement for the borrowers is that they try to harvest seeds from their own gardens at the end of the growing season and return them to the library.

 

The group's goal is to build and maintain a diverse library of seeds well adapted to the local environment and growing conditions. That's become increasingly important in recent years as large corporations have moved into the seed business, genetically modifying plants, patenting seeds and even creating hybrids that don't produce offspring seeds. While that's all good for the corporations' bottom lines, it's bad for plant diversity and it threatens to increase costs for family farmers, who will have to pay more money, more frequently for patented seeds. Additionally, the group hopes to eventually be able to participate in the International Seed Solidarity Project by donating excess seeds to communities around the world, further ensuring biodiversity.

 

It's a great idea and an extension of the sort of thing many local gardeners already do, but wouldn't it be fun, if, when you visit your local library this spring to check out a book or two, you could also pick up a pack of heirloom tomato seeds? We'd love to claim credit for the public library, but that came from the smart folk at Treehugger.com. We're just happy to plant that seed here. What do you think? Would you like to be able to check seeds out form your local public library?

Photo credit: Liz Setterfield

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