In this week’s Local Food Column Dennis Touliatos, a plant scientist at Lancaster Environment Centre, talks about an exciting new seed saving project.
“Seed saving practices are as old as agriculture. Farmers used to select and save seed from their best performing plants to bulk up and save seed for the next growing season. This process of selecting and saving seed created a wealth of biodiversity within the growing fields.
“Today, as a result of modern agriculture practices, growers purchase most of their seed from companies rather than saving their own seed.
“Farmers and growers often buy F1 hybrid seed varieties that have been bred for specific characteristics such as bigger fruit.
“F1 hybrid plants may offer great results in terms of yield and quality but, due to their production process, a grower can’t save their seed as an F1 plant’s seed won’t grow ‘true to type.’ The farmer therefore has to buy new F1 seed every year.”
“Not only does this result in a loss of agricultural biodiversity over time, but the skill of seed saving is also neglected and forgotten.
“Concern over these issues has resulted in seed saving projects and seed banks sprouting all over the world. Community groups and farmers are responding to these seedy challenges.
“The Lancaster Seed Library is one such project. It is being set up by Incredible Edible Lancaster and Transition City Lancaster, and is funded by the Heritage lottery fund.
“The Seed Library will be located in the Central Lancaster Library on Market square. It will provide a space to maintain locally adapted varieties of seeds for use locally - on farms, allotments or in your own back garden!
“Currently six core volunteers are helping to set up the seed library and they plan to run re-skilling workshops on seed saving - free for anyone to attend.
“All seed saving workshops and seed swap events will take place in the library.
“Anyone can get involved with the seed library. You can volunteer to help maintain the library, borrow seeds and attend seed saving workshops. We would also love to hear from any seed savers who would like to share their collection of local seeds with the Library.
“The Seed Library will be simple to use and will involve three key steps:
“Step one: Borrow seeds (and learn how to save seed).
“Step two: Sow borrowed seeds to grow plants.
“Step three: Harvest and save some seeds for the next growing season (and return some seed to the Library to keep it going!)
“To find out more or to get involved contact firstname.lastname@example.org”