UA Helps Bring First International Seed Library Forum to Tucson

In 1981, the nonprofit seed conservation organization Native Seed/SEARCH hosted the first national grassroots seed conference in Tucson, Arizona, to better meet the community’s need for access to quality seeds. Thirty-five years later, ensuring community access to seeds remains a vital issue. In order to promote further dialog and cooperative action, Tucson is proud to host the first International Seed Library Forum on May 3-6, 2015.  

The UA’s Kellogg Program for Food and Water Security in the Borderlands, housed in the Southwest Center, is one of the co-hosts of this collaborative event, and several UA researchers are involved as moderators and speakers, including Gary Paul Nabhan (Southwest Center); Laurel Bellante (Geography and Development/Southwest Center); Maribel Alvarez (Southwest Center/Anthropology); Ashley Stinnett (Anthropology); Alison Deming (English); Moses Thompson and Morgan Apicella (UA Community and School Garden Program); and Cynthia Anson (College of Science).

Gary Paul Nabhan, the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems in the Southwest Center, which is housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, is one of the organizers of the forum. Nahban, who co-founded Native Seed/SEARCH, is an internationally-celebrated nature writer, food and farming activist, and proponent of conserving the links between biodiversity and cultural diversity. He has been honored as a pioneer and creative force in the "local food movement” and seed saving community.

Nabhan says that they expect more than 150 people from the United States, Canada and Mexico to attend the forum and that the Pima County Commissioners have declared the first week in May “Seed Library Week.” Here is an AZPM radio interview with Nabhan where he speaks about the event.

The event kicks off with a field trip to the Mission Garden, a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit trees, local heirloom crops, and edible native plants. Other events include a community seed swap and a screening of the documentary, “Seeds of Time,” followed by a Q & A session with agricultural policy expert Cary Fowler. The closing event features a celebration to benefit the Jardin Botanico de Oaxaca and the Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace with tamales and local music.

Registration is closed, but the general public is invited to attend evening events:

  • Seed Swap, May 3 (Free)
  • “Seeds of Time” Screening, May 3 (Free for registered participants; General Admission price for the public)
  • Celebration of Seeds Literary Reading, May 4 (Free), with poet Scott Chaskey and Gary Nabhan
  • Closing Event Celebration, May 5 ($25)

A complete schedule of events can be found here.

The goal of the four-day event is to bring together experts from public libraries, nonprofits, universities, and food banks across the United States and in other countries to further improve access and management of local seed resources. The forum highlights the increasingly important role that seed libraries play in creating best practices for seed saving and seed sharing at the community level.

Panel discussions will cover a wide range of topics including: increasing the quality, and diversity of community seed resources, establishing seed library protocols, documenting the seed library movement, increasing access for low income households, and nurturing the next generation of seed savers in school gardens. The forum also addresses recent regulatory challenges to seed library operations in five states.

Support for the International Seed Library Forum has been generously provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Amy P. Goldman Foundation, and the Arizona Library Association.

The event is being presented by the following organizations: Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Edible Baja Arizona magazine, The Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace’s Mission Gardens, The Loft Cinema, Mercado de San Agustín, Native Seeds/SEARCH, Pima County Public Library, and the University of Arizona Southwest Center. Additional co-sponsors include Greenhorns, the National Young Farmers Association, the Seed Library Social Network, Seed Savers Exchange, and the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance. Artwork was created by Paul Mirocha Design.

Gary P. Nabhan, University of Arizona, 928-225-0293,
Laurel Bellante, University of Arizona, 520-490-6318,

Text excerpted from press release.


Published Date: 

04/28/2015 - 12:34pm