Squamish group to open a local seed library

Seedy Sunday will kickstart the group’s inventory

Squamish will soon have its very own seed library, an extension of a trend that has been happening across the country and abroad.

To kickstart the creation of the town’s library, the Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN) will be hosting an event called Seedy Sunday. Gardeners and plant enthusiasts can come to the Black Tusk Room in the Brennan Park Recreation Centre on March 12 to swap seeds. Starting at 10 a.m., people are free to bring as many or as little seeds as they want, and they are free to take whatever amount they choose. Gardening workshops will also be taking place, and the event will be free of charge. 

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The idea of having a seed library in town came when a few members of CAN brought up the thought during one of the organization’s community gardening workshops.

“It’s just snowballed from there,” said Michalina Hunter, chair of the group. “It spread by word of mouth. There’s been a ton of people who’ve been interested.”

If you’ve used a leave-a-book, take-a-book shelf in a café, you already have an idea of how a seed library works. 

After paying an annual $5 fee, users will be able to take as many seeds as they deposit during the spring and summer. Plans for the library’s location have not been finalized, but Hunter said it will be installed in a prominent public area, and that her organization is experimenting with ideas for how it will look. 

For instance, one proposal would have the seeds tucked in tupperware placed on a series of shelves.

The organization is also considering having a mobile library that can be set up in farmers’ markets and other public events. Squamish isn’t alone in embracing seed libraries – it has spread to numerous communities in B.C. and also in small towns and major cities elsewhere. 

For example, seed libraries have popped up all over the Lower Mainland, with shops opening up in Vancouver, Richmond, Victoria and Surrey among others.

The trend appears to be gaining steam — it’s not uncommon for multiple libraries to exist in one city. Vancouver has nine independent shops and the Toronto Seed Library has 19 branches. Seed libraries have also made their way abroad, as cities such as Los Angeles also have repositories as well. 

But while seed libraries aren’t unique to Squamish, Hunter says one thing that can become unique to town is its inventory.

“We’ll be able to develop our own Squamish varieties of seeds,” Hunter said.

Assuming that users deposit seeds coming from locally-grown plants, over time the seeds will adapt and change to become breeds unique to the area, she said. Hunter said it’s a step towards becoming a community that can have food sovereignty, which is the idea that individuals rather than corporations should control the means of producing their own food. 

Another benefit, she said, is that it could create plants that have a better chance of surviving global warming.

“When climate starts changing in different pockets all over, we’ll be able to swap with other communities and find seeds that are adapted to lots of different environments,” Hunter said.

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