(Submitted by Creston Community Seed Bank Society)

Plants for the future: Creston seed bank aims to enhance food security

A study conducted at the College of the Rockies will determine which plants are most heat tolerant

The Creston Community Seed Bank Society is continuing its mission to spread the wealth of gardening throughout the valley.

It began with two enthusiastic gardeners, Dan and Val McMurray, who grew tons of their own produce each summer and saved seeds from every plant.

They traded rare seeds with other growers around the world. Over the years, they amassed a collection of all different kinds of vegetable seeds, including 1,600 varieties of tomatoes.

After Dan McMurray’s death in 2012, the entire seed collection was donated to the College of the Rockies for the benefit of the entire Creston community. College staff and volunteers got to work with the aim of maintaining the seed collection by growing as many varieties as possible.

In time, it became clear that the main goal of the seed bank should be to enhance local food security. In December 2020, Patricia Huet founded a new non-profit – the Creston Community Seed Bank Society – to further these goals.

“Seeds are the basis for food security,” said Huet. “If we can distribute seeds to people who don’t have enough food, they can grow their own.”

She said that plant growing and seed saving has been going well, despite the pandemic and the horribly high temperatures of last summer.

To prepare for future inclement weather, the seed bank is launching a new project this year to learn which plant varieties are most heat tolerant.

At the College of the Rockies Creston campus, different varieties of heirloom tomatoes and beans will be grown in a controlled environment with the same amounts of water, light, and fertilizer. A weather station will track temperature, humidity, wind, and soil moisture. The growth and production of the plants will then be tracked to predict how the crops will withstand heat.

“The whole project is to find varieties that will do well when it’s really hot and then we’ll try to shift the seed bank towards more climate adapted varieties,” said Huet.

The seed bank is currently in search of volunteers and home gardeners to help with plant growing and seed saving, which is something anyone can learn how to do. Those interested are asked to email crestonseedbank@gmail.com.

For more information and updates on projects, visit crestoncommunityseedbank.org or the Dan McMurray Community Seed Bank Facebook page.

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Creston Valley