Seed Banks and Seed Swapping Protect Biodiversity

How seed saving will save biodiversity.

Seed banks and seed swapping may conjure images of old-timey farming, but they’re also paving the way for the future.

Many of you have probably heard the story about Johnny Appleseed, but did you know that when John Chapman was working to share and spread apple seeds there were at least hundreds of apple varieties? Fast forward a couple hundred years and walking into any grocery store you will only find the same 10-12 varieties of apples. With the advent of modern agricultural practices and the growth of corporate agriculture we have lost much of our agricultural biodiversity.

But with the rise of the farmers markets and the local food movement, more consumers want to do something about our food system. Biodiversity is about more than just having more food options though. It’s a practical way to protect against pests and diseases that can wipe out crops and cause rising food prices, decrease in nutrition and even famine.

Monsanto and other corporations who, in their quest to make a profit for shareholders, limit the diversity of our food crops. Our lack of agricultural diversity has not all been profit-driven. During the Green Revolution of the twentieth-century, scientists began studying how to feed our growing population and diversity suffered. A balance does need to be struck between growing enough food to feed the world’s population and protecting the biodiversity that will ensure that we will continue to be able to feed ourselves.

What Can You Do to Protect Biodiversity?

Growing your own food from heirloom and non-hybrid seeds and saving and sharing those seeds is one way that you can support biodiversity of our food. You can also source foods locally from growers who save seeds. The goal is to conserve and promote endangered garden and food crops by collecting, growing, sharing heirloom plants and supporter growers who use seeds and plants.

Get Involved With Seed Swapping and Seed Banks

Seed swapping or sharing is the act of sharing seeds with others who save their seeds. The idea is that you get to diversify your garden and keep these plants and seeds in use to protect them.

A seed bank is an organized effort to preserve seeds for future use. Seeds Savers is one of the most well-known and respected seed bank efforts. Many local libraries are actually stepping in to help facilitate local seed saving efforts. The Pima County Public Library is one such institution.


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Plants image via Shutterstock