New Seed Library Located at Mercado Sano
Green San Miguel
By Amy Cotler
de Semillas San Miguel de Allende
Mercado Sano, Ancha de San Antonio 123, back of the food court
Open Thursdays 10–2 to borrow and learn more, every day for browsing
Volunteers welcome to sort and pack seeds
Seed and book donations accepted
Right here in town a quiet revolution is sprouting in backyard gardens, schools, and small farms. It’s spearheaded by Somos Semilla Biblioteca de Semillas San Miguel de Allende and its two founders—Botanist Soledad Saburido Alvarez and sustainable agriculture expert Jennifer Ungemach.
Their passion is seeds, and for good reason: there is no life without them.
Saving seeds is the ancient technique of gathering seeds from plants to replant for future harvests. The benefits of seed saving are multifold. It encourages and restores diverse plants to share and replant and protects us when disease wipes out a single species. Locally grown plants also produce more productive and resilient seeds that are perfectly situated for their climate and soil. And they are grown for their flavor as well as for their cultural and culinary significance.
But seeds and their infinite variety have been under siege since corporations began to manage seed production. In a recent analysis of local corn in partnership with Elena Alvarez-Buylla of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 10 of the 13 varieties collected locally had GMO components. Many of these were thought to be organic but have been polluted by neighboring GMO crops, or are from GMO seeds used by unsuspecting farmers. Somos Semilla will be teaching home gardeners and small family farmers how to hand-pollinate heirloom varieties, which is the only way to reinvigorate these essential crops.
The Seed Library Solution
The Somos Semilla Library at the Mercado Sano is the beginning of the solution. Visitors are encouraged to drop by to borrow and plant seeds in their own garden, and then return the seeds saved from their crop. There is also a collection of gardening books to borrow and more donations are welcome.
The seed collection is as plentiful as the diversity of San Miguel, including more than 20 varieties of tomato, three varieties of okra, and gorgeous multicolored Cherokee heritage corn. While Mexico is home to the world’s oldest archeological corn site, traditional corns are in danger of disappearing. So, one of the library’s most important focuses is corn, as well as beans and squash, the three vital staples of Mexico.
Spreading the Word
Teaching is part of the mission at Somos Semilla. On request, they’ve taught lessons and given lectures. In the future, they hope to hold educational events at the Mercado Sano. Soledad and Jennifer also partner with Isabel Rico in rural communities. Rico teaches the women how to garden, while Somos Semilla focuses on seed saving, encouraging them to construct their own library to share with other communities.
Stop by on Thursdays, 10am–2pm
Jennifer and Soledad are running Somos Semilla on their own volunteer time, and they need community support. You can help them by borrowing seeds and books, volunteering, making donations, or buying some of their products.