I'm proud to be a founder of the Austin Seed Library. A few years ago I grew Armenian Cucumbers in my veggie garden. They were amazing. Day after day I harvested armloads of these delicious, refreshing treats in the hottest part of summer. I made pickles, I made cocktails, I made salad after salad... The smooth, ribbed skin and crisp texture make this variety a delight. The cucumber beetles ate away at them day and night but the plants couldn't care less. It was my gardening dream come true.
The next year, I wanted to plant them again. But I couldn't find the seeds anywhere! I searched all of my normal local nurseries, seed catalogs and asked friends. But I finally had to break down and do a random google search for them. The only place I could find them was Burpee. Now, I don't have anything against Burpee, but what if they go out of business? Where will I get my seeds? What if they decide to not carry Armenian Cucumbers anymore? This is when I decided to take up seed saving.
On a larger level I started to wonder if it is wise for our food to be in the hands of profit-motivated companies. I started reading and researching more, and found that many of our vegetable varieties have gone extinct or face extinction because commercial farmers do not grow them. It's up to home gardeners and small scale farmers to keep these rare treats alive.
I also learned that you can hone the genetics of your little veggie plants by saving the seeds year after year. You can create what gardeners refer to as a "Landrace", which is perfectly adapted to your soil and climate in your specific garden. This will be valuable to us as we are starting to face the consequences of climate change, especially in the already extreme climate of ATX.
The seed library is currently a small group of dedicated volunteers who love, love, love seeds. We are having a seed swap and kickoff meeting on April 7 from 2:30-4:30 at Sustainable Food Center. I hope you can join us.