Filling a seed need 

Just in time for harvest season, Missoula resident Rick Gold and the Missoula Urban Demonstration Project (MUD) are looking to germinate the Montana Seed Savers Network, a web of people wanting to collect, preserve and share local seeds for growing vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers.

There are plenty of people who gather seeds from their own gardens, says Gold, but there’s no way for them to coordinate their efforts or share the wealth. The Montana Seed Savers Network is looking to remedy that by creating a database and stockpile of natural seed varieties; Gold says the only requirement is that seeds are grown within the state, though organic seeds are a bonus. The network also wants to coordinate seed growers so knowledge and expertise can be shared as well.

“My idea was it would be nice if people were connected and could share and trade and get information about saving seeds,” Gold says.

The fact that small seed companies are increasingly being bought up by large, multinational corporations also is an impetus for a local network, says Gold, who worries about the growing prevalence of genetically altered crops and the dangers of having the world’s seeds originate from a few strains.

Rebecca Richter, executive director of MUD, echoes Gold’s concerns: “[The seed savers network] is definitely something we need to do. It’s really important for maintaining genetic diversity and local varieties…and there’s enough interest in the community.”

MUD’s involvement with the project is a natural fit, Richter says, as the group has been teaching seed-saving classes since the early 1980s.

The next step for launching the Montana Seed Savers Network—as is common with many budding Missoula ideas—is a potluck and organizational meeting, where the coordination of volunteers and participants, and the tracking down of office space and a databasing computer will be discussed. That will take place Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 7 p.m. at MUD headquarters, at 629 Phillips St.

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