Nielsen Library’s Seed Library

By Lilliana Chavez |

Amongst the books and bustle of the first floor of Adams State University’s (ASU) Nielsen Library, a special sort of library awaits. It is the Seed to Seed Library, and it offers the community free, organically grown, non-commercial seeds. The seeds found at the library are donated during the last Saturday in January, which is also designated National Seed Exchange Day. On this day, the Nielsen Library hosts a community seed exchange which attracts people from all around the San Luis Valley to come and exchange the seeds they have saved with others who have also done the same. It is during this exchange that the library receives the bulk of its collection from donations. While the Seed Library depends on donations, it also only accepts exchanges of seeds that have been grown in the SLV. The purpose of this is to find seeds that are “proven growers” in the SLV, said Mary Walsh, the Seed Librarian in charge of the Seed Library. Once those seeds have been found, they are separated into individual packets and stored in the library for anyone to “check out”. While patrons do not have to return the seeds they check out, they are strongly encouraged to save seeds from their harvest and bring them to the next seed exchange the following year.

The Seed Library was first started four years ago in 2015, and it was driven by Mary’s passion for putting healthy food in people’s bodies. The seed exchange not only helps with food security, but also helps avoid the dangers caused by facilitating a monoculture. In a monoculture, the same strains of crops are grown over and over again, and eventually, they lose their resistance to pests and diseases. In order to combat the loss of this resistance, more pesticides and fertilizers are used on these plants which only further contributes to the problem. Ultimately, having a monoculture way of farming have a negative impact on food security. The Seed Library helps avoid this issue because it facilitates the use of different seeds for the same crops. For example, a person who wants to keep growing corn can use seeds from the Seed Library instead of his or her own that were harvested from their crops the previous season.

The Seed Library is a joint collaboration with the following groups: Nielsen Library, SLV Foods Coalition, Valley Educational Gardens Initiative (VEGI), and the Alamosa Community Greenhouse. The Seed Library is also a part of the Seed Savers Exchange which is a national organization focused on the preservation of heirloom seeds. With the Seed Library’s focus on local gardeners and local seeds (heirloom seeds), it is able to encourage local plant growing. Another benefit of the Seed Library is that because it encourages local farming and harvesting, it helps to reduce the movement and the carbon footprint of food. Non-locally grown crops at the supermarkets have to be shipped in from somewhere, and in order to keep them edible, they are subjected to chemicals. Their transportation also contributes to the increased level of emissions. Locally grown crops reduce the need to ship in those products, and they also do not have to be preserved for that shipping process.

The Seed Library has opened for this year, and the seed exchange generated approximately 375 seed packets. The variety of seeds the library has to offer this year includes locally grown and harvested cilantro, dill, SLV tomato, the beautiful glass gem corn, and many more. If you are interested in learning more about this unique library, refer to the link below or stop by the Nielsen Library near the Circulation Desk, and come find out how you can start your own garden!

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