There is a lot of talk about knowing where your food comes from, whether that’s how many kilometres away it was harvested or whose hands it passed through on the way to your kitchen table. But what about understanding the very origins of where our food comes from – the seed?
“Healthy seeds are the foundation of a healthy food system. We believe in the power of seed to bring health and joy to our communities. Our work is twofold: to re-connect people and seed and restore community control over the source of our sustenance.”
–Borrow Save Share, Lifecycles Project Society
While farmers and growers have been saving and sharing seeds for thousands of years, this practice has dwindled with the rise of a global food system in recent decades. According to local seed savers Borrow Save Share, we have lost between 75-90% of global crop diversity. This might seem okay for individuals who like to buy the same produce at the grocery store week in/week out. But in the bigger picture, these monocultural farming practices (i.e. growing a single crop intensively on a large scale) significantly limits the resilience of our food crops in face of environmental adversity, such as extreme weather conditions and natural disasters.
The opposition to the monocultural farming industry has led to the rise of a “Seed Sharing Movement.” This movement is led by a small and dedicated group of people who are concerned about biodiversity, access to diverse seeds, and community food resilience. They are taking action by offering Seed Sharing Libraries in their communities.
In Vancouver, we are lucky to have a number of dedicated individuals and community groups who are supporting the Seed Sharing Movement. These groups offer free seed libraries for individuals to take/give back saved seed and run #SeedySaturday events with seed-related workshops and educational resources.
Grandview Woodlands Community Seed Library
The Grandview Woodland Community Seed Library offers community members the opportunity to “check out” seeds to grow at home. Members plant these seeds, care for the plants, and let some go to seed. These seeds are collected, dried, and returned to the library for use by members in the next year. The Grandview Woodlands Community Seed Library is a new initiative offered in collaboration with Grandview Woodlands Food Connection and Village Vancouver.
Kensington-Cedar Cottage Seed Sharing Library
In collaboration with the Kensington branch of the Vancouver Public Library, Cedar Cottage Food Network started a seed sharing library in the fall of 2013. Throughout each growing season, they host monthly workshops on a variety of gardening topics. Named after the Seedy Saturday events across Canada, their workshop series includes a seed swap at each event. So far, their workshops have included seed saving, starting plants from seed, specialty gardening, companion planting, and permaculture.
Come out to their monthly Seedy Saturdays at VPL Kensington Branch (1428 Cedar Cottage Mews) and Kingcrest Community Garden (4150 Knight St). Each session will have a different workshop theme. Follow updates for upcoming meet-ups on the Cedar Cottage Food Network blog.
All sessions start at Kensington Library at 11am:
- July 7th
- August 18th
- September 15th
- October 20th
- November 17th
Village Vancouver’s Seed Savers
Organized out of the Strathcona Park Field House, VV Seed Savers is part of Village Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks. They have founded and run dozens of seed libraries in neighbourhoods around Vancouver ⎯ listed below⎯for community members to swap, donate, or pick up seeds. Some of these seed libraries are accessible during regular operating hours, while others are only accessible during workshops and other public events.
VV Seed Savers save seeds from their collaborative gardens (in Kitsilano, Strathcona, and West Point Grey), run seed saving workshops, convene Seed Saver clubs, make seed donations to community and school gardens, and have supported the rise of many of the local seed libraries. If you’d like to get involved, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their webpage.
Seed library is accessible at Vancouver Public Library’s Carnegie Branch (401 Main St)
Offered in collaboration with Hives for Humanity.
Fairview/False Creek Neighbourhood Food Network
Seed library is present at Village Vancouver’s Charleston Park Community Garden workshops and other events
– Kits Village Seed Savers have seeds available and provide seed saving information at community events, Kits Village Collaborative Garden work parties, and the Westside Community Food Market.
– Vancouver Public Library, Kitsilano Branch (2425 MacDonald St)
– Accessible at MLA David Eby‘s office (2909 W. Broadway)
Main Street Neighbourhood Village Seed Library
Swap, donate or pickup seeds at Main Street Village events and local community events, such as Village Vancouver demo villages at Main Street Car Free Day, Riley Park Festival, and Autumn Shift Harvest Festival.
Marpole Oakridge Neighbourhood Food Network
Seed library is available at Village Vancouver’s workshops and events in Marpole Oakridge.
Riley Park Community Garden
Seed library is accessible through the Riley Park Community Garden (50 E. 30th Ave)
Offered in collaboration with Little Mountain Riley Park Neighbourhood House (3981 Main St)
– At West End Neighbourhood Food Network potlucks, workshops, and other activities at West End Community Centre (870 Denman St.)
– Available at some urban farming and food-related events at Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton St)
West Point Grey Village
Available at Village Vancouver’s events and workshops at West Point Grey Community Centre (4397 W. 2nd Ave.), Aberthau Garden, and EcoGarden activities.
Village Vancouver also make their roving seed libraries accessible at their workshops in Champlain Heights (at Champlain Heights Community Centre, 3350 Maquinna Dr.), Fraserview-Killarney (Riverlands Community Garden, 2750 E Kent Ave), South Vancouver (Sunset Community Centre, 6810 Main St), Douglas Park (Douglas Park Community Centre, 801 W. 22nd Ave), as well as at community fairs and festivals around town.
For other seed libraries in the Lower Mainland
Visit the Seed Libraries in B.C. database run by Borrow Save Share, a Lifecycles project acting to support and network seed libraries and other seed sharing initiatives across B.C. They also share resources to learn how to start up your own seed library and find other local growers.
More Resources on Seed Saving Initiatives and Tips
– BC Seeds (a program of FarmFolk CityFolk) has worked closely with B.C. vegetable seed growers and seed companies for over a decade. They offer resources about seed producers, B.C. eco seeds co-op, and other B.C. seed libraries.
– This printable guide to Basic Seed Saving from Seeds of Diversity shares the basics of how to save your own seeds.
– A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty is a zine from The Seed Ambassadors Project on why to save seeds and instructions on how to save both easy and more challenging seeds.
– These Seed Resources for Educators developed by USC Canada include free downloadable lesson plans and activities for teachers, parents, and educators to share the importance of seed biodiversity, seed saving, and how to grow food with children.