food permaculture

How To Save A Public Library: Make It A Seed Bank

This is an inspiring story from the States. South Africa, take note!

Despite the cold and snow, some signs of spring are starting to break through in Colorado. The public library in the small town of Basalt is trying an experiment: In addition to borrowing books, residents can now check out seeds.

In a corner of the library, Stephanie Syson and her 4-year-old daughter, Gray, are just finishing a book with a white rabbit on the cover.

When Gray approaches the knee-high shelves filled with seed packets, she zeroes in on a pack labeled “rainbow carrots.”

“We just read two books with bunnies in them, so we’ve got bunnies on the brain,” Syson says.

Syson flips through a wicker bin labeled “carrots” and offers other varieties to Gray, like “atomic red” and “cosmic purple.”

Here’s how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others.

The seed library is a partnership between the Basalt Public Library and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. Seed packets encourage gardeners to write their names and take credit for their harvested seeds.
The seed library is a partnership between the Basalt Public Library and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. Seed packets encourage gardeners to write their names and take credit for their harvested seeds.

Syson says tending a garden in Western Colorado can be frustrating. The dry climate, alkaline soils and short growing season keep many novices from starting. She’ll take seeds from the plants that withstand pests and persevere through drought.

“If you save seed from those plants, already, in one generation, you will now be able to grow a plant that has those traits,” Syson says.

The seed packets are a novelty within the library’s more mainstream collection of books, CDs and DVDs.

The library’s director, Barbara Milnor, says in the age of digital, downloadable books and magazines, the tangible seed packets are another way to draw people in.

“You have to be fleet of foot if you’re going to stay relevant, and that’s what the big problem is with a lot of libraries, is relevancy,” she says.

Milnor says that while a library may seem like an odd location for a project like this, seeds and plants should be open to everyone. That makes a public library the perfect home for a seed collection. The American Library Association says there are at least a dozen similar programs throughout the country.

Back at the front desk, Syson and Gray place the rainbow carrot seed packets on the counter.

Syson says the library has always been a place for her daughter to learn. The seeds just add another lesson.

“For her to see a little pot of dirt and to plant a seed into it, and then 30 days later being able to eat something from it is really exciting for her,” she says. “She really enjoys seeing that whole process.”

A process that now includes a trip to the local library.

Source: NPR The Salt

flowers food permaculture

Spring has Sprung Winners!

03/10 The first winner in our ‘Spring has Sprung’ competition, run in conjunction with Jeannine Davidoff’ of earthwormproductions, is lucky no. 10 Barbara. Well done, Barbara! If you haven’t yet entered, please check it out HERE… :-)

31/10 The second winner in our ‘Spring has Sprung’ competition is no. 6, Sammi! Nice work Sammi!



1. Barbara
2. Sammi

permaculture recycling sustainability

Post Carbon Housing

A revolutionary low-cost post carbon house built from tyres, cement, recycled wooden pallets, tin cans and cardboard boxes was unveiled yesterday, 21 May 2012, at the Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre on the Rocklands Primary School grounds on the Cape Flats. A project of SEED — a recent finalist in the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Awards — ‘The Homestead’ will be life-tested by Rocklands Primary School principal, Mr. Kevin Pretorius, who will stay in the house as a ‘post carbon survivor’ for the remainder of the week.

SEED is an organisation that uplifts and educates communities using permaculture principles. Their flagship Rocklands Urban Abundance Centre is a green lung in a gritty neighbourhood. It is also the site of SEED’s first Outdoor Classroom made of 680 tyres, 2400 tin cans and 18 000 cardboard boxes. The layout of the Homestead Model is based on the floor size and budget of an RDP house (Reconstruction & Development Programme) — and costs just R 80 000.

The Homestead Model imagines a life without electricity and oil, and showcases practical examples of how residential units could use waste streams and low technology applications such as pedal-powered washing machines and solar cookers in order to live sustainably “off the grid”. In addition, The Homestead Model recycles all of its own waste and has a demo Permaculture system that will see occupants able to use run-off rain water to grow their own herbs and vegetables.The demo Homestead Model launched yesterday will eventually be home to the school’s new live-in caretaker, offering much needed security to the school.

SEED Director, Leigh Brown, comments; “The Homestead Model offers more space and better individual sanitary systems than most RDP houses but over and above this, it is a future-fit solution for a rapidly expanding low income population — not just in South Africa but in many developing countries around the world.” Post carbon survivor and Principal of Rocklands Primary School, Mr. Kevin Pretorius, says; “I believe my stay in The Homestead will be a great adventure. I am curious to see how I will adjust as a solo survivor! We’ve been working on this project for a long time and now is the time to show the learners, and our community, that there are other ways to build and other ways to live. Perhaps it will inspire our learners to go on to become the engineers and architects of the future; leaders for a more sustainable environment.” Plans of the house are downloadable HERE.

food permaculture soil

2012 Permaculture Courses at Berg en Dal

Hello all,

Please find below all the autumn courses happening at Berg en Dal.

Warm regards,

Berg en Dal


Companion Planting Winners!!

23/11 Ok, so there has been a lot of interest in Jeannine Davidoff’s companion planting book. I hope that those of you who don’t win a prize will still go out and buy the book. It would make a great Christmas present for fledgling and established gardeners alike!

To keep things democratic we use the True Random Number Generator to give us a number between 1 and 48 (from top to bottom comments). This time, 3 is the magic number, which means that Samantha Pickard has won the first copy of the book. Well done to her!! There are still three more copies to win so think positively about your number…

30/11 We’re now up to 70 and the second winner of Jeannine’s book is Nadia at number 4. This Random Number Generator seems to like low and consecutive numbers. Watch out Dani, you might be next. Good work, Nadia! Enjoy getting your fingers dirty! 🙂

09/12 So, we’re out of the single digits. This week’s winner is number 51, Julia. Nice work, Julia, good luck with your patch full of moth-eaten cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower… 🙂

19/12 Apologies for the delay in announcing the winner – end of year rush… The fourth and final recipient of Jeeannine’s book is no. 9, Muffins! Congrats Muffins, just in time for Christmas…

Finally, a big thanks to Jeannine for supplying all of these books for the competition. You all seem very enthusiastic about it so if you haven’t won, please support Jeannine by buying a copy of the book.

We also have another competition to win some cool calendars, one more to go. Please check it out and comment 🙂


1. Samantha Pickard
2. Nadia
3. Julia
4. Muffins