- Established in 2010
- Over 1000 members
- Growing seeds for several varieties which are not in commercial supply
David King, founding Chair of Seed Library of Los Angeles (S.L.O.L.A), called the initial meeting for the group in 2010, in response to the encroaching threat of GM0 crops. In particular, he was outraged by a government bill which allowed GMO beetroot and alfalfa to be cultivated in California. The first meeting was held outdoors on a cold, wet day in December. Over 40 people attended. David knew that he had hit on something that responded well to current concerns of fellow home-growers and gardeners.
How it works
The seed library is based at The Learning Garden, Venice High School. There is also a satellite branch at Sepulveda Garden Center in a different district of the city. Both branches are open for monthly meetings which include a workshop and the chance to check-out seeds. The spring meetings often attract up to 30 people but meetings throughout the year are regularly attended by at least 20 people, demonstrating ongoing demand for the service.
Anyone can pay $10 to become a Lifetime Member of S.L.O.L.A. You don’t need to be a member to check-out seeds, but the membership scheme helps to draw people in to the idea and is, of course, an excellent fundraising tool. In 2015, the number of members exceeded 1000 for the first time.
The library contains seeds donated by commercial suppliers, purchased with library funds, and locally grown. Like most other seed libraries I visited, the majority of the seed saving was being done by a handful of active members. David predicated less than 5% of the members were involved in seed saving and that 5-10% of the collection was locally saved, both of which he would like to see increase in the future.
David recognises the value of seed saving in creating locally adapted crops that are well suited to the specific growing conditions of a region. The fact that the library has managed to raise funds for itself through its membership scheme, means that they can purchase seed that are appropriate to the area, rather than relying on hand-outs.
David is saving seeds from a couple of crops which are not commercially available and makes these seeds available to seed library members. The crops include a bean given to him by his Italian-American dentist, and an heirloom tomato originally breed by 19th century Californian botanist Luther Burbank. By saving these unusual seeds, David is simultaneously preserving an old variety and creating a crop that is well adapted to the region.
There are plans underway to create a digital catalogue of all of the seeds which have been grown out in L.A. This will be a valuable resource when it arrives.
More info: http://slola.org/