Seeds of Value

Seeds hold the plant’s potential to become a standout vegetable crop or an ornamental that attracts many pollinators. Many people value, protect, and seek to preserve seeds, including those in seed libraries, seed banks, and with an international seed vault.

Seed libraries in this region may show how gardeners can save open-pollinated seeds from plants that grow well locally. A few gardeners save heritage seeds for generations that become available to the public in seed catalogs. 

Viable seeds from the past and present have many answers to questions. For example, some researchers and plant breeders look for past crop plants that can tolerate climate change. Seed banks preserve samples that hold solutions to many current and future plant issues and are resources for research. 

In the United States, the USDA has 20 seed banks around the country that preserve samples of seeds of major grain crops. The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation in Ft. Collins, CO, has viable seeds that have been kept for 75 years. 

Many other countries are interested in seed banks, including Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Colombia, Mexico, Germany, Australia, Sweden, South Korea, etc. Groups of countries such as the Middle East and indigenous communities have seed banks. 

In 2008, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault opened in Spitsbergen, Norway, an island in the northern Arctic. The Norwegian government built and now manages the vault, which, in June 2021, had 1,081,026 crop samples. These are duplicate samples that seed banks worldwide send to the vault. Jennifer Duggan of “Inside the Doomsday Vault” said the samples represent more than 13,000 years of agricultural history.

Built in a sandstone mountain with little tectonic activity, the permafrost, with backup refrigeration, holds the seeds at -18 degrees C. or .4 degrees F. to delay the seeds from aging. 

The vault is a long-term secure storage for seed duplicates if seed banks are destroyed due to war, accidents, human error, loss of funds, or natural disasters. It stores the world’s crop diversity.

We sow seeds this spring with many points of connection in this world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s