Menominee Seed Library
An article from Woodland Trust asks us 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, ensuring we are saving plant species from these threats and more.
If stored properly, seeds can remain viable in seed banks for hundreds of years, preserving genetic diversity and food for future generations. The College of Menominee Nation currently maintains a seed bank with more than 200 different heirloom plant varieties, including traditional Menominee seeds collected from the Menominee forest, and varieties suited for Menominee County. Our seed bank is specifically used for storage and long-term preservation, but there are many ways for community members to get involved in seed stewardship by sharing seeds, season to season, through the College’s 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, much like books at a library. CMN's seed library, located at the Sustainable Development Institute, currently 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 them next year.
- Regional Adaptation: Most commercially available seeds are selected because they perform well across the majority of the country. By saving seeds from your best performing plants and returning those seeds to the library, you'll help develop a seed variety 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 that doesn't constitute a 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're 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.