life + learning banner

Save Those Seeds!


Life + Learning

  • seeds sprouting in the ground

Jessica, Preston | March 1, 2017

In 2005, scientists resurrected an ancient being. It wasn’t a dinosaur or a caveman like in the classic movies Jurassic Park or Encino Man, but it did have a name: Methuselah.

Methuselah was a male date palm tree, sprouted from a 2,000-year-old seed by researchers at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies in Israel. A few years later, scientists from the Russian Academy of Sciences took things a step further by successfully growing a flowering plant from 32,000-year-old seeds which had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel.

These seeds were saved by chance. Imagine the possibilities if we save seeds on purpose.

Seed banks have been set up around the world to preserve seeds and safeguard genetic diversity. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, for example, is a state-of-the-art facility with the capacity to store 4.5 million varieties of crops. Some crop varieties have fallen out of popularity and are no longer grown on a large scale; seed banks preserve these seeds for historic and cultural value. Perhaps even more important in an age of rising global temperatures (and sea levels), seed banks also serve as a precaution against global crises that could potentially wipe out entire varieties of the crops we still depend on.

Seed libraries are a similar initiative, but on a much smaller scale. Rather than keeping seeds in a vault, seed libraries preserve plant varieties through the sharing of seeds. Seed library users “borrow” seeds to plant in their own gardens. When the plants are ready, users harvest the seeds and “return” them to the seed library.

If you’d like to join in on the seed sharing fun, you’re in luck: the Idea Exchange Preston Seed Library officially launched in January with a variety of seeds to share. Visit us at our Preston location to pick up new seeds for this year’s planting or to share seeds from your own garden. If you’re not sure where to start, browse our collection of gardening and seed saving books for ideas, or consult the experts at our monthly workshops. The perfect, genetically diverse garden is within reach.