Tucson hosts International Seed Library forum May 3-6, 2015

(Tucson, Ariz.) In 1981, the nonprofit seed conservation organization Native Seed/SEARCH hosted the first national grassroots seed conference in Tucson, Arizona, to better meet the community’s need for access to quality seeds. Thirty-five years later, ensuring community access to seeds remains a vital issue. In order to promote further dialog and cooperative action, Tucson is proud to host the first International Seed Library Forum on May 3-6, 2015.   

The goal of the four-day event is to bring together experts from public libraries, nonprofits, universities, and food banks across the United States and in other countries to further improve access and management of local seed resources. The forum highlights the increasingly important role that seed libraries play in creating best practices for seed saving and seed sharing at the community level. Panel discussions will cover a wide range of topics including: increasing the quality, and diversity of community seed resources, establishing seed library protocols, documenting the seed library movement, increasing access for low income households, and nurturing the next generation of seed savers in school gardens. The forum also addresses recent regulatory challenges to seed library operations in five states.

The event kicks off with a field trip to the Mission Garden, a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit trees, local heirloom crops, and edible native plants. Other events include a community seed swap and a screening of the documentary, “Seeds of Time,” followed by a Q & A session with agricultural policy expert Cary Fowler. The closing event features a celebration to benefit the Jardin Botanico de Oaxaca and the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace with tamales and local music.

Registration is closed, but the general public is invited to attend evening events:

  • Seed Swap, May 3 (Free)
  • “Seeds of Time” Screening, May 3 (Free for registered participants; General Admission price for the public)
  • Celebration of Seeds Literary Reading, May 4 (Free)
  • Closing Event Celebration, May 5 ($25)

Confirmed speakers include: Scott Chaskey (Author, Seedtime: On the History, Husbandry, Politics and Promise of Seeds); Cindy Conner (Author, Seed Libraries and Other Means of Keeping Seeds in the Hands of the People); Cary Fowler (Agriculture Policy Expert/Senior Advisor, Global Crop Diversity Trust); Justine Hernandez (Seed Librarian, Pima County Public Library, AZ); Gary P. Nabhan (W.K. Kellogg Sustainable Food Systems Endowed Chair, Southwest Center at the University of Arizona); Rebecca Newburn (Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library); John Torgrimson (Executive Director, Seed Savers Exchange); and Ira Wallace (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange).

Support for the International Seed Library Forum has been generously provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Amy P. Goldman Foundation, and the Arizona Library Association. The event is being presented by a collaborative of the following organizations: Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Edible Baja Arizona magazine, The Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace’s Mission Gardens, The Loft Cinema, Mercado de San Agustín, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Pima County Public Library, and University of Arizona. Additional co-sponsors include Greenhorns, the National Young Farmers Association, the Seed Library Social Network, Seed Savers Exchange, and the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. Artwork was created by Paul Mirocha Design.

Gary P. Nabhan, University of Arizona, 928-225-0293, gpnabhan@email.arizona.edu
Laurel Bellante, University of Arizona, 520-490-6318, saboressinfronteras@gmail.com