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Story by Russ Grayson, June 2015

1528645_398281796974074_1373199996_nA team of urban agriculturists has crowdsourced start-up funding for a new citizen enterprise in the small city of Launceston in northern Tasmania.

It's all to do with seeds, those tiny packages of nutrients and genetic instruction code from which our food grows.

According to Bridgette Watts from Urban Farming Tasmania, at the Seed Studio  " …the seed will be free in exchange for garden memories, ideas, photos, produce, seeds and so on”.

The Studio raised more than the AU$1000 it sought through a recent crowdfunding campaign. The Studio is a type of seed bank and, like any bank, you can make deposits and withdrawals, only in this case that is with seeds, not money.

Seed networks preserve biodiversity

The Seed Studio, like seed exchanges elsewhere, are community-based initiatives that maintain the genetic diversity of our food plants and preserve them through use. People take seeds, grow them, letting much of the crop go into the cookpot but leaving some of the plants to go to seed. These are harvested and dried, then taken back to the seed bank for others to make use of next growing season. Those growers, too, allow some of their plants to go to seed and return the surplus to the bank. And so it goes.

Citizen-led approaches to maintaining the agricultural biodiversity of non-hybridised crops (hybrid species might not reproduce true to type from their seed) is facilitated by the Seed Savers' Network's Local Seed Network found in town and city as well as by initiatives like Launceston's Seed Studio.

Launceston, population around 65,000, hasn't figured all that prominently when it comes to fair food and citizen enterprise in innovative food systems. Until now, that is, thanks to the Seed Studio.

The Studio will open this August at 3 Charles Street, one of the thoroughfares that makes up the grid that is Launceston's central core.

Visit Urban Farming Tasmania’s website for more details


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