As the summer growing season draws to a close, the Summit Community Supported Agriculture team will not only be harvesting the final greens and veggie blooms from their gardens, they will also be harvesting seeds from the plants.
The group of gardeners is working to make the county’s first-ever seed bank. They hope the effort will lead to a more sustainable food future for Summit County.
The vision is to establish a library that would offer free access to seeds and seed-saving education to everyone in the county.
“It’s really necessary for the community, especially at this climate, to link people together and share tips about the seeds,” said Kyla Laplante, Summit CSA lead farmer.
Seeds would be located, ideally, in a community library, where they could be “rented” for free. In turn, gardeners would be asked to harvest the seeds from the best of their plants at the end of the season, and return them to the bank.
Because the seeds will be free, the CSA’s lead intern, Emily Roesel, said the seed bank would close the loop on local community gardens.
“It’s going to kind of complete the system of sustainable food, and that is what we’re lacking by having to purchase seeds,” Roesel said.
At 9,000 feet, Summit County can be a challenging location to grow vegetables and flowers. Community gardeners said the cultivation of seed stock can ease the process because, over the years, the seeds will become more resilient and regionally adapted to the High Rockies soil and micro-climate.
“It’s really important in our climate to be adapting seeds to the region. Developing a collection of seeds that will do well here will give us an extra advantage,” LaPlante said.
Seed banks also play a part in preserving the environment as a whole, LaPlante said. Collecting and preserving a variety of seeds can help conserve genetic diversity.
The seed sector has gone through a massive concentration process.
The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates a loss of cultivated agricultural diversity of 75 percent since 1990, when the seed market emerged.
“In the early 1900s we had a huge variety of seeds, but since big businesses have taken over, the seed stock is owned by no more than 10 corporations,” LaPlante said.
“That alone is pretty scary,” she said. “The seeds are becoming essentially endangered.”
The community garden team, with the help of the High Country Conservation Center, have set up a donation site to get the project off the ground. They are hoping to raise about $1,000 for the project, which will be met with a matching grant.
The group is also working to collaborate with members of the Frisco Library, the location they hope to set up the seed bank.
Community members interested in donating to the project can visit the High Country Conservation website or go to this link: https://ioby.org/project/summit-county-seed-library