Winona State biology and ecology major Alison Bettin has spearheaded the creation of a campus seed exchange. It's a way for gardeners and residents to borrow seeds, grow their own food and, in turn, produce more seeds for other community members.
She says, "It allows people to be more engaged and have more of a connection with their food." Bettin has already created local partnerships with the Winona Community Garden, Winona County Master Gardeners and more - and gathered the seeds and supplies to get started.
Bettin says "Touching the soil and having that connection to the earth can really help your mental health." She adds, "So few people actually know where their food comes from."
The seed bank will be on the third floor of the Science Laboratory Center. The university will stock seeds, including rare ones, donated by companies and community members.
The seed library will be run out of the Community Garden at the East End Recreation Center, a place for residents to borrow seeds and donate their own.
Another goal of the bank and library is giving all people access to healthy, high-quality produce, regardless of socioeconomic status. Bettin said that the Warrior Cupboard, the food shelf on campus, is sponsoring the program and planning to include seed packets in its inventory.
To inform people about the new program, and about general gardening practices, Bettin and others will host a number of workshops and community events in the coming months. The first workshop is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4 at the Science Laboratory Center.
To attend the workshops, Winona State students must pay $5, and community members must pay $20. Everyone in attendance will receive a copy of "The Seed Garden," a reference book about growing plants and saving seeds.