Invasive Species: Dept. of Agriculture Shuts Down Community ‘Seed Library’

by Ian Tuttle

No good deed goes unpunished by the federal government. That’s what the Joseph T. Simpson Public Library in Mechanicsburg, Penn., which was piloting a new “seed library” in partnership with the Cumberland County Commission for Women, learned this week. The community effort, which would have allowed locals to “borrow” seeds and replace them with new ones harvested at season’s end, had already found 60 residents willing to participate. The local Sentinel reports:

That was, until, the library system received a letter from the state Department of Agriculture telling them they were in violation of the Seed Act of 2004. . . .

Darr explained that the Seed Act primarily focuses on the selling of seeds — which the library was not doing — but there is also a concern about seeds that may be mislabeled (purposefully or accidentally), the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants.

The department told the library it could not have the seed library unless its staff tested each seed packet for germination and other information.

According to Cumberland County commissioners, the department sent “a high-ranking official and lawyers” to a meeting with the library.

Contra the government’s claims, the only invasive species in Mechanicsburg is the Department of Agriculture.