Maker Faire 2010: Seed Libraries Prove Tough to Sprout

maker faire seed library photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

S.P.R.Out (Seed and Plant Resource Outreach) is a non-profit seed and plant library based in West Marin, and while the project is one that many gardeners are thankful for, it's also an exercise in nursing along an idea. S.P.R.Out founder Medea Aranda was working hard to not only expand the library, but also just simply keep it going. She spoke with us about her model for the organization, as well as some of the challenges that make seed libraries - indeed most lending libraries - a labor of love.

maker faire seed library donations photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

SPROut is based on gardeners taking only the seeds they need for the plants they're really going to grow (one doesn't need a whole packet of seeds of broccoli when they only have room for 5 plants) and bringing back at least one seed of that type of plant. It's not a whole lot to ask, but it can be difficult to get even a handful of gardeners to grow out a plant, save the seeds, and bring them in for other gardeners to utilize.

maker faire seed library jar photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

Still, the seed library is maintaining its existence, and is even expanding a little. Medea Aranda holds events like seed-saving classes to show people how easy it can be to collect seeds from their garden to use during the next season.

maker faire seed sunflower photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

Seed swaps and sowing parties are two great ways the library gets people together and creates a community around gardening. When people meet the fellow gardeners they're helping out by saving seeds and contributing to the library, they're more likely to go to the effort of growing out at least one of each type of plant they grow and collecting the seeds.

maker faire seed sign up photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

Everyone interested in being part of the library signs up as a member, and they can start utilizing the resources. The more gardeners who participate, the more diverse the seed library becomes as members contribute the plants that they enjoy the most.

Plant diversity is a key part of a healthy garden, and seed libraries are an ideal way to maintain that diversity among an area's gardeners. So check out if there is a seed library near you that might need your help in boosting the seed and plant offerings, and if you're in the Bay Area of California, check out SPROut!

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