The practice of sharing seeds is as old as farming itself. Only until the contemporary era of industrialized, monoculture agriculture did it become the norm for farmers and gardeners to buy seeds from a biotech company like Monsanto, instead of saving their own or trading with neighbors.
Hawaiian guerrilla gardening organization Eating in Public is attempting to revive the tradition, with a new initiative that wants to put seed sharing back into the public eye, by distributing pop-up seed sharing stations in communities around North America.
It’s a simple idea, really. Libraries, community centers, coffee shops, galleries, or anywhere where people pass through agree to host stations. Eating in Public will provide them for free (or they have for building your own). The stations come with some pencils, a stapler, recycled envelopes, and a rubber stamp and pad so seed-sharers can label their offerings, as well as 50 packs of seeds to get people started. Anybody who feels like it can grab seeds or leave some behind.
So far, spots in San Diego and Fairfield, California; Queens, New York; London, Ontario; and Vancouver have agreed to host. The only requirement: that adoptive organizations agree to keep the stamp pad inked, the pencils sharpened, and the stapler restocked.
In the 10 years since its founding, Eating in Public has dug gardens on public land, created a network of “anarchist” recyling bins, and founded “free stores.” “Our ideas are not original,” they write on their website. “We want to show that the commons can still exist right in the middle of the capitalist/state regime. And we can take care of each other while we take care of ourselves.”