What’s Growing On?

Morgantown Seed Preservation Library to be housed at the Morgantown Public Library

West Virginia University Libraries and the Morgantown Public Library will jointly hold events on April 12, in conjunction with Food Justice Day, to celebrate the opening of the Morgantown Seed Preservation Library.

The Downtown Campus Library will host a panel session on seed sovereignty and seed/food justice from 1:30-3 p.m. in the Milano Reading Room. Barbara Hengemihle, associate university librarian, will open the session, and the moderator will be Mehmet Oztan, a WVU service assistant professor of geography who created the Morgantown Seed Preservation Library in collaboration with the Morgantown Public Library, WVU Libraries and the Food Justice Lab at WVU.

Panelists will include Sarah Palfrey, Director of the Morgantown Public Library; Jonathan Hall, a WVU assistant professor of geography; Joshua Lohnes, food policy director at WVU Food Justice Lab; and Mike Costello, chef, farmer and co-owner at Lost Creek Farm.

Following the panel session, the Morgantown Public Library will hold a seed swap from 3:30-5 p.m. Hosts for the swap will be Costello; Ira Wallace, a renowned seed steward and advocate; and Dr. Lewis Jett of WVU’s Extension Office. In addition, Wallace will give a keynote speech on her journey with heirloom seeds from 6-7 p.m. in the public library.

The seed preservation library will be housed in the Morgantown Public Library, and in the upcoming years, it will offer the heirloom seeds of West Virginia and the Appalachian Region to the Morgantown Community and the greater Morgantown area as part of its mission to preserve the regional agrobiodiversity, and culinary and farming traditions. The patrons of the Library will be able to check out seeds in a similar fashion that they check out books.

“The seed preservation library will focus on documenting the stories of the regional seeds and their stewards, and it is conceptualized as an education-based seed preservation center, as opposed to a seed lending library with minimal community involvement. Hence, the educational mission of the seed preservation library will help raise a cohort of community seed-savers, a major task to make it self-sustainable in the long run,” Oztan said. “Learning how to save seeds will not only be an important educational experience for the Citizens of West Virginia but it also will help the community members reflect on the cultural diversity involved with seeds.”