Collecting seeds is a long practiced tradition. The oldest carbon dated seed is a Date Palm seed about 2,000 years old! Seeds have been collected and stored in Seedbanks around the world, preserving many varieties as a back up plan in case of natural disasters, outbreaks, war, disease etc. There are somewhere near 6 million seeds being stored in over 1,000 seedbanks worldwide.
Svalbard Global Seed Vault collects seeds in an abandoned coal mine about 800 miles away from the North Pole, on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen. These seeds are copies, or "spares" of seeds held in gene banks around the world. A back up, to the back up, if you will. They are highly protected.
Seed saving isn't as daunting as it looks. It is something any of us could do, in our own back yards, in our gardens, or even our flower pots.
Seed saving had lost popularity in recent years with the majority of growers choosing to buy annually, but is feeling a resurgence with growing interest in organic farming, permaculture and heirloom varietals. Seedy Sunday (or Saturday) is a yearly seed exchange started in Canada in 1989. It began as a program to exchange heritage seeds. This community connecting event usually happens near the end of winter. Check the Seedy Sunday seed swap page for the next event.
If you are interested in learning more about saving your own seeds, your local librarian could point you in the direction of books worth checking out. Flower Garden News has step by step advice on collecting, drying and storing seeds. The Seed Savers Exchange is a great network to connect with other seed collectors. The International Seed Saving Institute offers 5 day seminars, and also information for the expert or novice on seed saving, broken down by vegetable. The United States Forest Service offers information on saving native plant seeds. And the HomeStead series (on Youtube) offers this strait forward video on collecting Tomato Seeds.
For the lazy seed collector, Amazon.com sells a Survival Seed Bank for only $49.95. Providing you with back up seeds to grow a full acre crisis (victory) garden!
Photo Credits: Svalbard Global Seed Bank courtesy of the Svalbard Gloval Seed Bank. Seeds in Jars Photo by: Frans Lanting/Corbus. Seedy Sunday Photo by: Sue Craske.