Back in August, we learned of a crack-down in Pennslyvania due to certain activity at the Joseph T. Simpson Library in Mechanicsburg, activity so serious the state dispatched “a high-ranking official and lawyers to a meeting with the library.” Whatever had happened at this otherwise innocent-looking location to warrant such a response?
It seems the Simpson Library was in violation of the Pennsylvania Seed Act of 2004. A member of the Cumberland County Commission, where Mechanicsburg is located, quickly raised her voice and exclaimed, “Agri-terrorism.” Other Commissioners, however, more calmly wondered why the state had taken such interest in the local seed lending library, one among some 340 community libraries across the country at that time which had small seed-sharing programs.
Seeds brought to the library are carefully labeled, placed in small paper or plastic envelopes, then filed, typically using those wooden card catalogs of yesterday. Library patrons check out or “borrow” seeds and take them home to grow in the spring. If the seeds result in a good harvest, gardeners collect some seeds from the plants they’ve grown and replenish the library’s holdings the following fall.