Interviews with Great Folks #6: Amanda from Pittsburgh Seed and Story Library
August 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Hi! Tell us who you are! What’s the Pittsburgh Seed and Story Library?
Hi! My name is Amanda West. In partnership with CLP-Lawrenceville I founded the Pittsburgh Seed and Story Library this past May. I’m originally from Virginia and moved to Pittsburgh in 2010 for the Master of Food Studies program at Chatham. The seed library is my thesis project (and sort of my baby). It’s a place where people can go to “borrow” seeds meaning that they bring seeds home with them and are asked to take their plants past the harvesting stage to the seed saving stage. They then collect those seeds and bring them back to the seed library for others to use. No late fees though! It’s also a place where people can come to get information about gardening and take classes under Gardening Thyme’s programming. I’ve done Seed Bomb classes and will be teaching a Saving Tomato Seeds class on August 28th at CLP-Lawrenceville and we’ll also be hosting a Crop Swap on September 1st at 2!
Why did you start the project?
I saw a need for a free resource that is open to the public involving being able to obtain seeds, basic knowledge and information about seeds and gardening (especially urban gardening), and classes about seed saving for beginners. I also thought about what is happening with our seeds within our food system (huge focus on a handful of commodity crops) and the need to boost biodiversity wherever possible. Being that the library is a place where any member of the public can go to read, learn, and take classes, partnering with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh seemed a perfect fit.
How has the project been for you to do? What have you learned/enjoyed/experienced??
Taking the seed library from an idea to a tangible thing and place where people can go to check out seeds and learn about gardening has been really amazing. I knew that some folks would find it interesting but I didn’t anticipate the amount of excitement around the project that has continued. I personally have learned so much and met so many wonderful people as a result of this project, so it’s been very uplifting, encouraging, and fun to help put together. The library has been so supportive and lovely to have as a partner throughout the whole process. Looking forward, the seed library zine that will be put together through a series of weekly workshops in September at the Big Idea Bookstore, is the next big exciting thing we have the opportunity to do. By holding these workshops and having writing facilitators present, participants will be able to tell their story involving seeds and gardening and all of those stories will be put into a zine that will be printed and included in the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh – Main, Oakland’s Zine Collection as well as sent out to the 45 or so seed libraries across the country. Seed libraries really support each other so we hope that this project will enrich other seed libraries as well.
Why are zines important to you?
Zines, just like the seed library, aim to move people and uplift the stories of those who write the pages. The seed library tries to do this not only with those who check out seeds and grow them out, but with the seeds themselves. I hope that like the seeds, the stories will spread through town and multiply, opening a new and exciting dialogue about Pittsburgh gardening histories.
Tell us anything you feel moved to!
We have exciting events coming up so here they are!
August 28, 6pm- Saving Tomato Seeds class at CLP-Lawrenceville
September 1- Crop Swap at CLP-Lawrenceville. Bring your bumper crop and trade with your neighbors! This is open to anyone and everyone. Veggies that are brought to the crop swap do not have to be from seeds checked out at the seed library.
2nd week of September date & time TDB- Saving Tomato Seeds class at CLP-Woods Run
Pittsburgh Seed and Story Library Story Gathering (Zine Writing Workshops)- September 6,13, 20, 27 (Thursdays) from 6-8 at Big Idea Bookstore in Bloomfield.