Seed libraries take a stand

Seed-sharing initiatives — which allow participants to “borrow” seeds from a library at the beginning of the gardening season and “donate” seeds back to the library after harvest — are cropping up all across the country. They have become a proven way to help build community, support local agriculture, and kickstart the sharing movement.

What’s not to like, right? Well, USDA had some objections, for one, leading to a bit of a crackdown last year.

…library officials received a letter from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture notifying them that their seed library was in violation of the Seed Act of 2004. The Department of Agriculture sent a top official and attorneys to meet with library representatives. They explained that, while the Seed Act’s main focus is the selling of seeds, the department is also tasked with keeping mislabeled seeds, invasive plant species, cross-pollinated varietals, and poisonous plants out of the state. As part of their discussions, the department further informed the library that all seeds had to be tested for purity and germination rates.

Well, it’s a year on now, and things are looking up.

In both Minnesota and Nebraska, bills that specifically exempt non-commercial seed sharing from commercial seed laws were recently signed into law.

And the Feds are on board, so there won’t be midnight knocks on the door from the Seed Police.

…“the Department of Agriculture itself worked with us to create the language that they were happy with. To that extent, it feels that there’s a really positive message that can be brought from Minnesota, that the leader of this organization, that his state supported it.”

But if you think that’s all very well, but not much comfort to seed enthusiasts in the other 48 States, there’s a petition you can sign. I wonder if this will make it to the Supreme Court, and if so how Scalia will vote.

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