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Food Sovereignty

Food Sovereignty

Menominee Food Sovereignty


Seed Library


Seed Library

Seed Bank

An article from Woodland Trust says to think of seed banks as a form of insurance. With so many plants today threatened by extinction from habitat loss, climate change, pollution, pests, and diseases, seed banks serve as a hub to store seeds to ensure we are saving plant species from such threats.


If stored properly, seeds can remain viable in seed banks for hundreds of years. This is an insurance policy to preserve genetic diversity and food for future generations. The College of Menominee Nation maintains a seed bank with more than 200 different heirloom plant varieties; included are traditional Menominee seeds collected from the Menominee forest and varieties suited for Menominee County. The CMN seed bank is specifically used for storage and long-term preservation, however there are many ways for community member to be involved in seed stewardship by sharing seeds season to season through the College’s seed library.


Seed Library

A seed library is a collection of vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower seeds that are available for people to check out and return, like books at a library. The College of Menominee Nation has a seed library located at the Sustainable Development Institute and contains seeds from 177 different plants.


Any community member can check out seeds from the library, grow the plants in their garden, allow a few plants to ‘go to seed,' and then return the saved seeds to the library at the end of the growing season. These seeds help assure that the CMN collection contains a stock of healthy and viable seeds.


Why Use the Seed Library?

  • Promoting Sustainability: The Seed Library Social Network explains that seed libraries serve the community by reconnecting local people with their food systems while providing an alternative to genetically modified seeds, increasing biodiversity, and responding to climate change. By using the library, you get the exact variety and number of seeds you want at no charge. All that is asked is that you return the seeds at the end of the growing season so more people can enjoy the seeds next year.
  • Regional Adaptation: Most commercially available seeds are selected because they perform well across the majority of the country. But by saving seeds from the best performing plants and returning those seeds to the library, you will help develop a seed variety that is better adapted to Menominee County’s specific soil, climate, and growing conditions. Over multiple growing seasons, this adaptation will grow stronger and stronger.
  • Full Growing Cycle: Harvesting produce from your garden is great, but isn’t the full cycle of plant growth. By saving seeds, you engage in the entire life cycle of the crop from seed, to plant, to fruit, and back to seed.

Don’t know where to start? If you are a beginner to seed saving, the easiest crops to start with are beans, lettuce, peas, and tomatoes. Look through the online seed catalog or stop by the Sustainable Development Institute to find seeds you’d like to grow in your garden.