How Seed Libraries Will Be Our Salvation
Master Gardener Stephanie Rose Talks Seed Gardens and Sustainability
April 26, 2022
The regenerating garden
A few years ago many of us took up new hobbies at home. These hobbies included making sourdough, now ubiquitous, baking banana bread and, according to Vancouver master gardener Stephanie Rose, gardening. When the world seemed shut down all around us, many Vancouverites brought their neighborhoods back to life by growing something themselves. In the spirit of sustainability, many of these new gardeners have built seed libraries across the city to share their new hobby with others looking to connect with their community. The regenerating garden
Gardens as community space
Rose says she became disabled in 2006 and had to “stop working overnight”. It was at this time that she discovered gardening. “I looked at the small plot I had in my lot in East Vancouver and decided ‘This is where I’m going to heal,'” she shares. But she also describes gardening as “very, very laborious”. It’s true – and it can sometimes deter would-be gardeners from starting their own plant journey. watering is hard work. , once harvested, most of us put the garden to bed and start again six months later. In order to nurture her own garden, Rose turned to the concept of permaculture.
Rose breaks down permaculture in her new book, The regenerating garden. She describes it as “a mini ecosystemwhich “takes a lot less time, a lot less money.” “It’s just a nice space where you can really sit, interact and enjoy nature,” she says, “Rrather than constantly having to work on it.
These new gardens springing up all over Vancouver have become more than just spaces to grow plants, they have become community spaces. “People started reaching out to their communities to find ways to invite and share,” she says. Just as using permaculture to maintain your garden is regenerative, bonding with our neighbors is also regenerative. A prime example of this are the abundant seed libraries that are popping up more and more – blending community and sustainability across the city. The regenerating garden
What is a Seed Library?
Seed gardens aren’t too different from the curbside book libraries we all know and love. These are boxes (some can be super elaborate, others are just a well-used plastic bin) which by definition contain a selection of seeds but often also contain teaching and reading materials for gardeners. Rose says these reading materials are essential because they help educate new gardeners. The seeds are usually leftovers from other gardeners in your area, but local seed companies like West Coast Seeds often donate as well. Rose noted that because seeds are donated and left outside in libraries, they don’t always germinate at the same rate as new seeds – so we shouldn’t be discouraged if they don’t all turn out. The regenerating garden
How to Start a Seed Library
If you’re looking to start your own seed library, Rose says you can also include, “seedlings, seedlings, cuttings and seed starter supplies.” Adding cuttings and seed starter supplies can help both beginners and seasoned gardeners build their gardens. Plus, if you have a plant that has done particularly well in your garden, chances are it will thrive in your neighbors as well. The regenerating garden
Why start a seed library
According to Rose, creating or participating in our local seed libraries provides “an opportunity to share skills and knowledge with neighbors, bring greater food security and provide environmental benefits.” Resupplying our neighborhoods with additional supplies while sharing knowledge creates a community ecosystem, as well as plants. Rose’s book lays out all the key points of seed-sharing libraries, as well as great local examples to learn from. Above all, seed libraries are a public space for seed sharing and can help educate new gardeners by encouraging community members to collect seeds from their gardens to share. As Rose says, “going out is kind of this radical act of community and local engagement.”
Stephanie Rose’s book, The Regenerative Garden, is now available and delves into sustainable gardening as well as community initiatives (like seed libraries!) and other hands-on projects to help you turn your garden into a functioning ecosystem.