Freedom to Share Seeds

by Tusha Yakovleva

seed shivaAlthough we have grown a lot from our small start among the bookshelves, our roots are still firmly grounded in the place where we began – a library. 10 years ago, Ken added seeds to his local library’s catalog, and out of that sowing the Hudson Valley Seed Library grew into what it is today. At the time when he started, there were very few seed libraries and none on the east coast. Today, there are over 50 across the country and the term ‘seed library’ is now familiar to more than just avid gardeners. To learn about the seed library movement and history and find out more about how the Hudson Valley Seed Library came to be, read Ken’s article on the subject: The Seed Library Movement from Roots to Bloom.

Unfortunately, seed libraries have recently been making headlines because a few of them – namely in Pennsylvania and Nebraska - are being restricted by a prohibitive law. State Departments of Agriculture have required these seed libraries to comply with the Seed Law - a law meant for large, commercial seed companies, one that most community seed sharing organizations are unable to follow due to high cost, administrative work, or simply the small size of the seed archive itself.

Seed freedom advocates around the country and the world are now taking steps to protect seed sharing rights before more seed libraries face similar challenges. Vandana Shiva spoke of the importance of open access to healthy seeds in her annual New Year’s address. The Sustainable Law Economies Center has launched a petition to all 50 U.S. State Departments of Agriculture and offers other legal resources for seed libraries and seed library advocates. Shareable, a nonprofit news, action and connection hub for the sharing transformation, has reported on the challenges and campaign to protect seed libraries:

Many of you have written to ask us if we've been affected by these restrictions. Thank you for your concern and thoughtfulness. As Ken recently explained to Hudson Valley Seed Library members, "Although we are not directly affected (we are in compliance with the Federal and NYS seed act) these developments affect us all. Restricting individuals from sharing seeds, from hand to hand, within their communities, is part of our common heritage. This is where much of our seed diversity has come from. Seed sharing protects us from the limits of a corporate controlled seed economy.

Please stand with out sister seed libraries and community seed banks and make your voice heard. Seed sharing should stay free. You can sign the petition to the directors of from the Sustainable Economies Law Center, click here:"

Our goal with Hudson Valley Seed Freedom is to keep you posted on seed-related developments in our region and nationally while developing a network of seed supporters and seed growers in the Hudson Valley. Please support our work growing, developing, and sharing seed. If you haven't done so already, become a member of the Hudson Valley Seed Library, grow with local seeds, and help spread the word. Thank you!