THE HEPBURN Shire community will reap the benefits from growing its own plants as an exciting new initiative prepares to launch.
Hepburn Seed Savers will be launched in October with the aim to encourage the community to take control of its local food supply.
The seed library, one of many popping up around the state, will operate out of Daylesford library with a permanent installation of seed packets containing viable seeds to grow plants that will thrive in the bio-region.
The objective of the seed library is to protect the diversity of plant varieties - fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers - through sharing and swapping locally-grown varieties.
By swapping seeds grown within the region, varieties become well-adapted to local conditions, meaning they flourish more with each season that goes by.
Resident Brenna Fletcher, who has studied botany and is passionate about plants, developed the idea for a seed bank in the shire as a way to provide free seeds to community members to improve the diversity of plants as well as food security.
With lots of other projects around permaculture and sustainability, many organised by the Hepburn Relocalisation Network, already being undertaken in the shire, Ms Fletcher saw an opportunity to fill a gap.
"I love seeds a lot - I have a special place in my heart for them," she said.
"Seeds are close to my heart because they each have stories to tell. They are a celebration of life, provide good things to eat and gardening. They are also a lovely way for people to connect as a group."
The seed library will preference heirloom varieties but the emphasis will be more on locally-grown plants.
Heirloom seed varieties are not grown by commercial growers. They are generally passed down from generation to generation, grown on a small-scale and are open-pollinated.
There are so many interesting and diverse varieties. We are losing the diversity of our food crops at an alarming rate and this is one way we can contribute to preserve that diversity.Brenna Fletcher
"For each season a plant is grown in a local environment it becomes better adapted."
It is hoped the free seeds will encourage all members of the community to grow their own food, especially young green thumbs, as her children are keen gardeners and eat their veggies straight from the crop.
"I love the sense of self-reliance growing your own food gives you. It gives you freedom as well as the joy of seeing things grow."
Ms Fletcher said there would be no pressure to return the seed as she just wants people to get out in their gardens, even if they only have access to a couple of pots.
There are several community gardens throughout the shire and Ms Fletcher thinks they will play a big role in the initiative.
The seed library will be managed by Hepburn Shire Council library staff.
The initiative operates in a circular fashion: community members first borrow the seeds to grow in their garden, which then grow into plants to feed the grower's friends and family.
Some plants are allowed to mature to produce viable seeds, which are then dried and returned to the seed library donation box to be planted by other community members.
Workshops will be run once the library is up and running and there will be resources available at the seed bank to help people to learn how to save their seeds.
There will also be monthly meetings at which community members can pack up seeds and draw seed labels together.
I'd really like to see it being really well-used, loved, vibrant and thriving with lots of seed of unusual varieties.Brenna Fletcher
It is also hoped the initiative can be expanded into the schools and grow from not just seed swapping but also to cuttings and fruit trees.
The seed library is currently looking for donations. Contact Brenna Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0427 223 999 to become involved.
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