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NMSU Valencia County Extension office establishing seed library

LOS LUNAS ? Some libraries house books. Other libraries are home to seeds. Seed-saving libraries, a place to literally check out and return seeds, are increasing in popularity as more and more growers and farmers gain interest in producing the best-tasting vegetables that you can get.

Man hoeing garden
Gardeners will be able to share their favorite plants? seeds through the Valencia County Heritage Seed Library being established by New Mexico State University?s Cooperative Extension Service office in Los Lunas. A seed-saving workshop will be held 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Extension office, 404 Courthouse Road in Los Lunas. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

Historically, saving seeds from the annual harvest was practiced to provide seed for the following year?s planting. Through the years, growers collected seeds of plants that had specific traits they wished to maintain, such as flavor of the fruit, yield rate, disease resistance or plant characteristics.

Today, a seed library is a way for community members to share their favorite plants? seeds. These libraries assist with this by providing a central location where growers can exchange seeds that can improve plant production or preferred characteristics of a vegetable.

New Mexico State University?s Cooperative Extension Service office in Valencia County is establishing a seed library for gardeners in the county.

?Saving and sharing seeds is a tradition that we?ve lost to some degree,? said Newt McCarty, Extension agricultural agent in the county, who is developing the Valencia County Heritage Seed Library. ?It?s a tradition gaining in popularity and practice, especially for small-scale growers.?

To reduce the risk of non-viable or diseased seeds, the library organizers are requiring that seed donations come from individuals who have attended a seed-saving training.

The next training will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, at the Valencia County Extension located at 404 Courthouse Road in Los Lunas.

?It?s a way for people to take gardening to the next level, where they select plant traits they wish to build upon,? said McCarty. ?They become more aware of the plant?s characteristics and the taste of the produce as they determine which cultivar they want to save and share.?

During several years of a selection process, a gardener can develop plants that become more and more conditioned to the micro-climates of an area.

?You save the best of the best and eventually you have a plant that thrives in your specific soil or environment,? McCarty said. ?It would be exciting to share with your family, friends and community a variety of vegetables, with all of the finest qualities.?

A seed library maintains its collection through donations from community members who have completed a seed-saving training. A common attribute of many seed libraries is to preserve agricultural biodiversity by focusing on rare, local and heirloom seed varieties.

Seed libraries exist in the Albuquerque area through the city?s library system, and in Sandoval County through the Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardener Program.

For more information about seed saving or the seed-saving workshop, contact McCarty at 505-565-3002.