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The City of Winona Parks and Recreation Department and Winona State University are partnering on the first Seed Bank and Library to take root in southern Minnesota as well as the first Seed Bank and Library within all of the Minnesota State Colleges and University system. 

The numbers from the first twelve months of the effort are impressive:
– 350 users
– 45 varieties and species of seeds
– 165 attendees at two workshops featuring seed saving demonstrations and hands on activities
– 500 volunteer hours, equating to an economic value of $13,790
– 3,000 plant starters given away at three outreach events
– 300 cookbooks in English and Spanish given away
– 500 individuals reached through 7 lectures, 2 tabling events, 2 podcasts and 1 facilitated discussion around food equity and insecurity, biodiversity, and seed saving

The project received funding from the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership and leveraged funding from personal donations, the American Association of University Women and Bluff Country Co-op’s bean jar program as well as multiple sources within Winona State University including the Green Fee, Student Senate, and a WSU Foundation campaign for a total budget of almost $15,000.  The project also received hundreds of dollars of resource donations from Seed Saver’s Exchange, Nature and Nurture Seeds, Renee’s Garden Seeds, Fedco Seeds, and Collective Eye Films.

The main branch of WSU Seed Bank and Library is located at the East Recreation Center, which is in a lower income neighborhood and is predominately used by those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. A smaller Seed Bank and Library is housed in the Winona State University campus food pantry.

“At every event we had I met people who shared innovative ways to grow their own food,” said WSU Seed Bank & Library founder Alison Bettin. “In our seed saving workshops and outreach events we talked about container gardening; it’s a good place to start, and ideal if you don’t have a lot of land to grow produce. Growing their own food empowers people to take back a part of their life they haven’t paid as much attention to.”

Thanks to the success of this work in Winona, a community member in Rochester was inspired to partner with Rochester Public Library to start a Seed Library of their own.

To learn more about what is happening at the WSU Seed Bank & Library follow them on Facebook @wsuseedbanklibrary.

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