Presentation Title

Characterizing Seed Libraries in Vermont

Project Collaborators

Carina Isbell

Abstract

Seeds are arguably the most critical element of agriculture. Mere decades ago, farmers had near autonomy over their seed usage: conservation, propagation, and exchange by most anyone. Today, over two thirds of the global seed market is under the ownership of just four companies. As seed access becomes legally challenging, and crop diversity faces continual erosion, the movement to put seeds back in the hands of the people has never been more critical to the sustainability of food systems. Yet, the institutions that are pioneering these efforts are drastically understudied. One such emerging force is the seed library (SL), which share seeds with their patrons with the intention of making seed more accessible to the public. To understand their missions in their communities as well as their perceived roles in agricultural systems as a whole, interviews were conducted with the coordinators from 12 SLs in the state.

Findings indicate that SLs in Vermont are motivated by a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, the pursuit of community resilience, a desire to educate community members on the importance of small-scale agriculture, and a hope for more biodiverse, sustainable food systems. Amongst their greatest challenges are the lack of funding and personnel to keep operations running after the departure of current leadership. At the root of their operations is the desire to stimulate community interaction and engagement.

As corporate dominion threatens the public’s access to seed, the rise of SLs seem to promise a sustainable, cheap, and local form of seed exchange. SLs have the potential to enhance crop diversity, food security, and resilience at the community level. Partnerships between SLs and other community-based establishments (such as schools, nursing homes, etc.) can further the educational goals of SLs, while simultaneously increasing membership and promoting small-scale agriculture.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Dr. Daniel Tobin

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Program/Major

Community and International Development

Primary Research Category

Food & Environment Studies

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 

Characterizing Seed Libraries in Vermont

Seeds are arguably the most critical element of agriculture. Mere decades ago, farmers had near autonomy over their seed usage: conservation, propagation, and exchange by most anyone. Today, over two thirds of the global seed market is under the ownership of just four companies. As seed access becomes legally challenging, and crop diversity faces continual erosion, the movement to put seeds back in the hands of the people has never been more critical to the sustainability of food systems. Yet, the institutions that are pioneering these efforts are drastically understudied. One such emerging force is the seed library (SL), which share seeds with their patrons with the intention of making seed more accessible to the public. To understand their missions in their communities as well as their perceived roles in agricultural systems as a whole, interviews were conducted with the coordinators from 12 SLs in the state.

Findings indicate that SLs in Vermont are motivated by a variety of reasons, including but not limited to, the pursuit of community resilience, a desire to educate community members on the importance of small-scale agriculture, and a hope for more biodiverse, sustainable food systems. Amongst their greatest challenges are the lack of funding and personnel to keep operations running after the departure of current leadership. At the root of their operations is the desire to stimulate community interaction and engagement.

As corporate dominion threatens the public’s access to seed, the rise of SLs seem to promise a sustainable, cheap, and local form of seed exchange. SLs have the potential to enhance crop diversity, food security, and resilience at the community level. Partnerships between SLs and other community-based establishments (such as schools, nursing homes, etc.) can further the educational goals of SLs, while simultaneously increasing membership and promoting small-scale agriculture.