What is a seed bank?
A community seed bank is a network of seed saving and exchange, a site for exercising Seed Freedom. Seeds are collected, saved, grown out, multiplied, selected, distributed …and the cycle continues, the circles of freedom keep expanding.
Seed banks are also called seed Libraries, where you can borrow seed like you borrow a book, and return on reading (growing and multiplying).Some communities, especially in Europe and USA, also have heritage seed savers who grow and distribute heritage seeds at a cost. In Navdanya, we promote community Seed Banks to recover Seed as a commons. So far 80 community seed banks have been set up by Navdanya.
How does it help
A seed bank will provide a refuge for local seed varieties in your region. This is a crucial step towards seed sovereignty at a time when patented seeds conquering the markets leading to great scarcity for regional seed varieties. Moreover, your seed back also can be a sanctuary for wild or traditional plant varieties which are important for its particular properties (like medicinal value, nutrition content) but are not considered as a crop for cultivation.
How do I set up my own?
First, start collecting the seeds in your region. If you are saving seeds in pots, keep it in a cool and dry environment to prevent any damage. Similarly it is important to label the pots with the details of the seed variety contained in it (like the name of the variety, particulars of the variety-for eg, drought tolerance etc). If you are planting the seeds, make sure you are able to identify the varieties cultivated (for instance, by labeling the plants). Similarly, save a portion of the seed before replanting the variety.
If you are a school, start saving seeds by setting up a “garden of life” to save seeds of freedom. If you are in a community, start a “garden of hope” as a community seed bank. If you are associated with a temple, church, mosque, gurudwara, start a seed sanctuary or distribute seeds as a blessing.