Government Crackdown on Innovative Seed Library

| 8/12/2014 11:01:00 AM

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Small town library's plans to loan seeds raises concerns about "agri-terrorism"

It was an inspiring, All-American example of a community project enriching the life of a small town—until the Agriculture Department swooped in to try and shut it down. 

This shocking story from Mechanicsburg in rural central Pennsylvania leaves people wondering if the all-for-the-market ethic that increasingly dominates business and government policy will stamp out the cooperative collaborative spirit that has guided American life for centuries and human progress for eons.

Here’s the story: During Earth Week last spring the Joseph T. Simpson Library in Mechanicsburg offered library patrons an opportunity to “check out” seeds, which they could plant in their gardens and then “return” at harvest time by collecting seeds from mature vegetables. 

How could anyone object to such an uplifting project, which encourages people’s self-reliance, healthy food and the continuation of traditional heirloom species? The idea for the seed library had come from the Cumberland County Commission for Women based upon successful seed libraries and banks around the world. The initial supply came from Seed Savers Exchange, a respected non-profit based in Decorah, Iowa that has been helping gardeners share seeds since 1975.

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