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March at the Seed Library

Pawpaw MainMarch at the Seed Library

Gearing Up for Spring

Spring is almost here and we’ve got about 10,000 things on the go! Every weekend in March there’s a Seedy Saturday — veritable seed fairs featuring vendors, workshops, and seed exchanges. Every weekend in April we’ve got Seed Saving 101 workshops & Seed Exchanges with the Toronto Public Library. Oh, and our Pawpaw Campaign has finally kicked off! Lastly, don’t worry, we’re almost back in the garden after this absurdly cold winter. We now present the newsletter:

Donations: A “berry” big thank you to everyone who has donated so far! We are finding ourselves very cash strapped at this extremely “buzzy thyme” of the year and need some funds to sustain our operations. Our first donation drive had a goal of $250 and we’ve raised $170 so far. If Ezra Levant raised around $100,000 for a new version SunTV in a month, I’m sure we can drum up a couple hundred bucks to get seeds into people’s hands! Click here for more donation information.

Pawpaw: This year the Toronto Seed Library is proud to announce the launch of a multi-year Pawpaw Planting Campaign. The pawpaw tree is perhaps North America’s best-kept fruit secret. I had never heard of this astonishing tree until last year — and since have gone totally bonkers over them. It is our continent’s largest native fruit, about the size of mango with a flavour like a combination of banana, mango, and melon, with an avocado-like texture. Sound a-maize-ing?! IT IS!! Not only is the fruit tasty beyond measure, but it’s a native tree with few pests that helps support and revive local ecosystems. The handsome Zebra Swallowtail Butterfly only feeds on pawpaw trees’ leaves in the caterpillar stage — but more than makes up for its munching with its beauty and intrinsic worth!

To participate in this planting campaign you will need to have regular land access that will last for years to come. The campaign will consist of three workshops and a field trip to the Niagara region to see pawpaws in the wild. The Seed Library received donations of pawpaw seeds from Forbes Wild Foods and will be working with live trees (and possibly some seeds) from Sassafras Farms in the Niagara region. Email us at to participate or for more information. Note: There will be a cost attached to participation in this program to help cover costs, $75.

The Seedy Zine: The newest edition of The Seedy Zine is out! You can grab copies at our events for $5 or at Urban Harvest’s table at Farmer’s Markets and view the PDF online. The Winter 2015 edition features pawpaw campaign tree information, round ups on the Eastern Canada Organic Seed Growers Conference and Guleph Organics Conference, a basic guide to worm composting, philosophy, art, poetry, and other seedy info.

We are currently accepting articles, art, poetry, and whatever you produce related to seeds or agriculture for the Spring 2015 edition. Email submissions to:

Seedy Saturdays: The annual Seed Exchanges and Events throughout Toronto (and Canada) organized by Seeds of Diversity and its local partners including the TSL, are nearly upon us! Check out our events calendar for a listing of Toronto area events and the Seeds of Diversity Events Page for GTA and the rest of Canada.

Mississauga Seed Library Launch: The Toronto Seed Library will be co-sponsoring the launch of the Mississauga Seed Library at the Port Credit Branch of the Mississauga Public Library this weekend on March 7! Make sure you head out to the opening event if you’re in Mississauga, there will bee plenty of seeds, great workshops, and lots of info. Check out the poster for more info.

Saturdays at the TPL: This year every Saturday in April, a couple in May (23, 30), and one in June (6), will see Seed Saving 101 workshops in Public Libraries across Toronto. We’ll be kicking it off on April 4 at the Parliament Street Library — “sow” make sure to be there!! One non-Saturday workshop as well on June 2. Check our events calendar for a full listing.

Spore Library Meet-up: Not satisfyed with seeds? Want something more challenging with totally different requirements than most food crops? On April 15 we’ll bee holding a preliminary discussion on forming a Toronto Spore Library for people wanting to grow fungal foods. The location is still to be arranged — more info in the next newsletter, for now just save the date!

Until next thyme…stay seedy!!!
Mulch lovage,
The Toronto Seed Library Team

A Winter of Growth

A Winter of Growth

And a New Year of Growing!

The Toronto Seed Library has seen some big happenings this winter. As the project mushrooms, we’ve had to lay down firm infrastructural roots. Our registered non-profit, The Seed Library Commons, is up and running to support the TSL & Seed Libraries across Ontario. The website is also getting a gradual overhaul, beginning with the Events and Bee Involved sections. As usual there are events galore, a new Seedy Zine on the way, a mulch-rumored Pawpaw tree planting campaign, and several exciting communities sprouting throughout Toronto.

New Status & Donations
You can now support the Toronto Seed Library with monetary donations by giving to our non-profit organization, The Seed Library Commons. Funds go towards growing the seed library and fertilizing our already existing projects. Donate today electronically through Paypal, meet us at one of our year-round eventsfor cash donations, or mail a cheque to:

The Seed Library Commons
c/o Foodshare
90 Croatia St
Toronto, ON M6H 1K9, Canada

~The Seed Library Commons is a registered non-profit organization and does not issue tax receipts. ~

The Seedy Zine
The Seedy Zine is currently accepting material for the Winter 2015 edition!  This lovagely, pocket-sized, knowledge-sharing, fun little publication celerybrates it’s 1st birthday on February 8th.

It’s bean a wild year learning about Bill C-18, bee loss, Pennsylvania seed library restrictions, and good stuff like chia seeds, soil-testing, raised beds, and seed-saving techniques.  And we can’t wait till The Seedy Recipe Book germinates!

If you would like to share an article, interview, recipe, poem, art, or promo material, please contact The deadline for the Winter 2015 issue is Feb 3rd .

Seed Saturdays 2015
The annual Seed Exchanges and Events throughout Toronto (and Canada) organized by Seeds of Diversity, and its local partners including the TSL, are nearly upon us! Check out our site for a listing of Toronto-area events, and the Seeds of Diversity Events Page for GTA and Canada wide events.

Seedy Survey
Please take a moment to help us better understand what our seedy city is hungry for! We’re trying to figure out the best way to get seeds into the hands of those who want them and it helps to hear what you have to say. Click here to participate — please do so by Feb 1.

Black Farmer’s Collective
An exciting new group has sprouted in Toronto! In their own words:
“The goal of the Black Farmer’s Collective is to develop a system that empowers our community and our farmers; anyone in or connected to the Agriculture or Argo industry sector or concerned community member about fresh food access, cost, quality and grade of what we are getting now for our dollars. Individuals, Groups, Organizations, Associations and or Agencies who are interested in issues or action related to food justice and security that affect diverse/black communities and other marginalized communities regarding food justice are welcome to join!”
Contact for more information or to join.

Pawpaw Planting Campaign
The Toronto Seed Library was donated around 100 pawpaw tree seeds by Kentucky State University’s Pawpaw Program and Forbes Wild Foods. The pawpaw is North America’s largest native fruit tree, and the GTA is at the northern limit of its range. The tree is delicate and needs lots of TLC, so those receiving the seeds will need to go through an education course before planting. The campaign will be run in coordination with several other like-minded groups in Toronto and Ontario — keep your eyes peeled for more info to come!!

February Events

Debate at UTSC’s International Development Conference
Sun, February 8, 10:00am – 3:30pm
At the UTSC Instructional Centre
Jacob Kearey-Moreland, co-founder and cultivator of the Toronto Seed Library, will bee engaging in a thematic debate on the topic of “Biotech vs Seed Sovereignty” at the “Decolonizing Development” International Development Conference @UofT Scarborough. Jacob will be debating Dr. Herbert Kronzucker, Canada Research Chair, and famed scientist and teacher. More info:

Permaculture Living Convergence
Sat, February 21, 10:00am – 6:30pm
Sun, February 22, 11:00am – 6:30pm

At Ryerson University, 245 Church St.
The TSL will be tabling at the Permaculture Convergence 2015 and Chief Librarian Brendan Behrmann will be a panel guest. The Convergence will focus on an array of topics and issues such as but not limited to food security, seed saving, safer spaces, food policy and legislation, indigenous rights, eldership, wholistic wellness, community engagement, dismantling racism in the institution, transformative change and so on. This year’s theme is “A transformed Toronto”. We will be engaging this matter through workshops, panels, unconferences, roundtables and presentations. Convergences follow permaculture principles from a social, ecological and spiritual framework of deployment. More info:

Bee Day 2015
Sat, February 28, 8:30am – 4:30pm
At Foodshare Toronto, 90 Croatia St.
Celebrate Bee-Day with Toronto Beekeepers Co-op and friends. Together with a panel of experts and enthusiasts [including TSL Chief Librarian, Brendan Behrmann] we will explore How Cities Are Saving Bees. Wonderfully informative workshops on Bee-Friendly Gardening, Threats to Bees, A Beekeeper’s Year and Community Pollinator Projects like the HomeGrown National Park. Sample local honeys, learn how to build a Wild Bee Home and buy fabulous local hive products and beekeeping supplies. Admission is only $50.00, a vegan lunch is included. More info:


Innocent Seed

Greetings Seedy Zines,

The Pennsylvania State Department of Agriculture recently threatened legal action against librarians at the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. High ranking officials along with department lawyers claimed their new seed library, one of a dozen in the state, contravened the state’s Seed Act by operating as a distributor or seed supplier without a license. Furthermore, to abide by the law, they were told they must pay a $25 licensing fee, have all their seeds tested and labelled to industry standards.

Cooperative by nature, the librarians ultimately succumbed to state-corporate pressure, and agreed to no longer accept or circulate the people’s seeds, which they had bean doing peasfully, without incident, since sprouting this past Earth day, by request of a local women’s group to support the program. The seed library will still distribute purchased or donated commercial seeds, as long as they have been commercially treated. People can still assemble in the library for swap events and share their own seeds with one another, but the library cannot accept or display them for circulation to the general public. This action by the department seeks to classify seed libraries as seed companies, thus forcing them to play by the same rules, rules that are in many cases prohibitive for both start-up seed libraries and small scale seed companies.

Citing concerns over possible ‘agri terrorism’; patent infringement, mislabelled seeds, cross pollination, invasive species, and other unspecified food system threats, the state said it will go after other seed libraries in Pennsylvania before the peoples seeds grow out of state-corporate control. Seed librarians in other states are reading their seedy legislation carefully as they react to this provocation.

Seed libraries, of which there are over 400 globally, are emerging in response to the epic failure of state-corporate seed and food monopolies to ensure food security. Seed libraries are a communities self defense against the very real agri-terror committed by the Monsanto’s of the world, and their systemic monopolization and contamination of our global seed and food supply.

Seed libraries are not seed companies, who distribute and sell seeds. While seed libraries may distribute seeds, they do not sell seeds, nor do most of them even exchange, barter or trade seeds. In most seed libraries the seeds are shared freely with no obligation to return, because the seeds are trusted in the commons. This crucial difference, overlooked by the state’s lawyers, might provide a loophole in which seed libraries can bypass the need to have their small collections processed through rigorous testing and labeling standards that legally do not apply to them. This confusion as to the legality of seed libraries was tackled in an insightful article that first appeared on the website Shareable, by Janelle Orsi and Neil Thapar of the Sustainable Economies Law Center, with input from Neal Gorenflo of Shareable and Sarah Baird of the Centre for a New American Dream. Their team of legal experts dissected Pennsylvania’s Seed Act and suggested a possible way out for seed librarians, for which there may be more. It’s important to note that all States have their own seed laws, with federal laws governing interstate seed exchange.

In Canada the federal government for the most part regulates the sale and distribution of seeds. We are not yet familiar with any laws that regulate community seed sharing or seed libraries, but there are now close to fifteen seed libraries that exist within public libraries in Ontario and more cross country. While there has yet to be a similar case in Canada, we are not immune to the venomous litigious bite of the corporate-state.

As we speak the biotech lobby, led by groups such as the CropLife Canada, run by former junior Harper cabinet minister Ted Menzies, are pushing through a new omnibus Agriculture Growth Act, Bill C-18, that proposes nearly 200 pages of reforms to 9 different agriculture and seed related acts. Because this bill has not been properly debated or aired in public, we do not yet know it’s implications for seed saving farmers and community seed libraries. Ask your MP and farmers themselves.

Seed laws are supposed to protect the safety and quality of our seed supply for good reason; to protect farmers from bad or mislabeled seed. It is with this intention to provide growers with quality seed, that the seed librarians behind the seed library social network are encouraging seed libraries to adopt voluntary protocols to ensure true, viable and quality seeds. Bee sure to save clean and dry seeds from healthy mature plants. Save from a number of plants so that the seed has some genetic diversity in it. If the plant cross pollinates, be sure to keep it isolated so it stays ‘true to type,” otherwise label seeds as experiment with details. Label all seeds with as much information as possible.

As radish seedy zines, we must grow further and contact the media and our legislators to demand new seed laws that explicitly exempt public seed libraries and seed schools. Contact your local library, school, or community garden to start a seed library today. Support your local seed library and efforts to promote ‘literaseed’ and seed sovereignty!

Yours In SOILidarity,

Jacob Kearey-Moreland