With fundraising efforts only $50 away from goal, a location secured and more than 340 packets donated, it’s looking more and more like Summit gardeners will have access to the county’s first-ever seed library this spring.
A group of Colorado Mountain College interns, in partnership with the High Country Conservation Center, has worked for months to turn the idea of a seed repository into a reality.
Now, the local gardeners said, they are on track to launch the Summit County Seed Library in March 2014.
“Each aspect of developing this seed library has gotten phenomenal support,” said Kyla Laplante, the lead farmer with Summit County’s community-supported agriculture program. “It’s actually been easier than I thought it would be to see everything come together.”
The Summit County Seed Library will provide an easier and more sustainable way to grow a variety of food in the high-mountain climate by offering free access to seeds and seed-saving education to anyone in the county. Over the years, organizers said, seeds will adapt to the region, and gardeners will be able to grow a greater variety of hardy produce.
“I’m excited about getting the different types of vegetables and the heirloom varieties people are going to come up with through their seed saving,” said HC3’s community programs director Jen Santry.
Community members will be encouraged to save the seeds from the best plants in their gardens.
“If someone is successfully able to grow a tomato outside, and they keep saving seeds from that tomato stock, they can really change the way we grow food in Summit County,” Santry said. “It may take some time, but the process is really exciting.”
Colorado Mountain College intern Emily Roesel has worked for months on the project and plans to see it through with the launch of the seed library this spring.
Roesel said she not only likes the idea of the seed library for its ability to contribute to gardeners’ success in the High Country, she also hopes to break the monopoly of large companies trying to gain control over how food is grown.
“Currently, there are five big companies that own the world’s seed market, and that’s frustrating to me,” Roesel said.
Summit County will soon be part of a small movement to preserve a variety of seeds.
“There still aren’t very many libraries around the United States that are doing this. It’s only a select few. So we will be on the forefront of this localized seed vault,” she said.
The collection of seeds will be housed in an ideal location, project organizers said. The Main Branch of the Summit County Library in Frisco recently agreed to house the Summit County Seed Library.
“When we kicked off our Summit Reads program three years ago, we chose the book ‘The Omnivores Dilemma’ because we knew this was a movement that was starting to grow here in the county with the beginning of the community gardens and the idea of trying to grow and buy our food more locally,” said library director Joyce Dierauer.
It only makes sense to continue working with local gardeners now as they try to create a seed library.
“As we understand there’s about 300 people who are involved with the local community gardens, and that’s a fairly significant audience, so this is a project that has met its time,” she said. “We can loan out seeds just like we can loan out books.”
Seed library organizers said they are thrilled with the library staff’s support for the project.
“They were interested in the idea from the very first conversations, have networked on their own time with the Basalt librarians (who have recently organized their own seed library) and have offered their help and ideas to ensure this will run smoothly for everyone,” Laplante said.
The local garden leaders said they plan to hold workshops to teach gardeners how to grow and harvest seeds in conjunction with the launch of the seed library next spring.
For information on donating to the project, and on ways to get involved with Summit County community garden programs, visit the HC3 Website at www.highcountryconservation.org.