The Shetland Seed Library has been created in March 2015 and currently consists of a colourful apothecary style box and a folder with the membership forms, situated on a windowsill in the Peerie Cafe in Lerwick. Its aim is to promote and rekindle interest in the art of seed saving throughout Shetland.
Our climate challenges the keenest gardeners and growers, making seed saving an invaluable asset as the plants grown from home saved seeds gradually adapt and become more resilient to this climate, generation after generation. Many local heirloom varieties have been lost over the last few decades but some crofters still save their own strain of Shetland kale, neeps and Shetland black potato seeds.
For those unfamiliar with seed libraries, here’s a definition borrowed from the Seed Library of Los Angeles:
“A seed library is a depository of seeds held in trust for the members of that library. Members come to the library and borrow seed for their garden. They grow the plants in their garden and at the end of the season, they let a few plants ‘go to seed.’ From those plants, they collect seeds and return the same amount of seed (or more) as they borrowed at the beginning of the growing season. Seeds are free to members.”
“The library is both a collection of seeds and a community of gardeners. Since seed is a living thing, it must be renewed each year somewhere by someone or unique varietals can become extinct. Even growing one seed and returning it to the library is a valuable contribution.”