What is a seed library?
Seed libraries are community institutions that help facilitate the activities of seed saving and sharing that have been integral to human civilization for millennia. They help keep many heirloom plant genetics available to the public that would otherwise not be available commercially. They are also a way of improving plant qualities by selecting plants over generations that perform best in particular growing zones and climates.
Cannabis is open pollinated, and it hybridizes very easily, so we will work with our members on proper hand pollination technique to help save their own seeds true to cultivar. Many cannabis cultivators have little or no experience growing from seed and hand pollination because of the availability of many excellent quality clones available throughout Northern California. Plants grown from seed are often more vigorous and resistant to pests and disease than plants grown from clones, and we want more home gardeners to experience growing plants from seeds without having to pay upwards of $25 per seed like some varieties found at Bay area dispensaries.
Why a worker owned cooperative?
From Community-Wealth.org: Worker-owned cooperatives are business enterprises that are owned and governed by their employees. All worker cooperatives have two common characteristics: 1) member-owners invest in and own the business together, and share the enterprise’s profits, and 2) decision-making is democratic, with each member having one vote.
We will be incorporating as a California worker-owned cooperative corporation, an entity that was added to the California Corporate Code by AB 816, which was passed with the hard work of community organizations like the Sustainable Economies Law Center, the East Bay Community Law Center, the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, the Democracy at Work Institute, the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives, the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, and many other dedicated individuals.
We believe that this seed library project is too important to entrust to a standard corporate entity form, which is driven by profits, not long term sustainability and community benefits. We also believe that everyone should have the opportunity to have a voice in how heirloom and landrace cannabis seeds are preserved, which is why we plan to operate our worker-owned cooperative as a multi-stakeholder cooperative. In addition to our worker-owners, we will have additional member classes, including consumer memberships and producer memberships, which will have voting rights and dedicated board seats, and community investor memberships. AB 816 created a securities exemption in California Corporations Code Section 25100(r), which allows worker-owned cooperatives to have a class of members with limited voting rights who can invest up to $1000 in the cooperative. All of our members will be entitled to a potential dividend, after worker-owner patronage.
We are also all activists who have worked for cannabis freedom, and we are disappointed with changes we are seeing in the industry. We believe that the workers should also share in the benefits of cannabis entering a legal market, as well as those who took risks to keep patients supplied with medicine in face of possible arrest prior to the adoption of the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act. The California medical cannabis movement has always held deeply to the ideals of community and mutual aid, we only had each other to lean on during the dark times. We do not want cannabis to only be seen as a commodity, it is instead about community, and a worker-owned cooperative is the best way of carrying on this spirit.
What else will you do?
In addition to administering the seed library, we plan to open a medical cannabis storefront nursery in Oakland, provided OMC 5.81 is changed to allow commercial zoning for nurseries to more accurately reflect the intent of state law. We will sell our own clones and hybrid seeds, in addition to other clones and seeds made by our producer members. We also plan to wholesale our clones and seeds, made at an offsite production facility, to other retailers, as well as licensed commercial cultivators.
Our storefront will double as a community resource center, where we will provide classes on growing from seed, hand pollinating and seed saving, permaculture techniques, and organic pest control and cultivation processes. We want to encourage sustainability, environmentalism,and better alternatives to industrial crop production and monocropping in cannabis cultivation. We will sell companion plants like dill, chives, and chrysanthemums - which can deter pests like spider mites, and chamomile and stinging nettles - which can increase oil production; cover crops like comfrey and clover; and a small selection of basic gardening supplies.
Eventually we hope to raise enough money through revenue and member investments to purchase a vacant lot to serve as a production facility and community center. We will install secure greenhouses for our clone production and seed breeding lab, and will have raised garden beds outside of the facility to recycle any dirt used in flowering and donate the vegetables to local food providers. We plan to partner with local urban gardening organizations to provide training for prospective urban farmer/boutique cannabis growers.
Where will you get your seeds?
We are relying on you to help us build this library. We need the assistance of California patients and farmers who have saved these precious resources through the horrors of prohibition to help us maintain access to these strains for future generations of patients, farmers, and researchers. We hope that some of you who have access to heirloom and landrace seeds will donate them to the library so we can breed more for our members. We are also creating a fund for remuneration to growers who have kept these genetic resources alive, because we believe they deserve to be compensated for bravely facing incarceration to keep these strains alive. The definition of heirloom is still debatable for cannabis seeds, but we are looking for stable phenotypes of old-school strains like Trainwreck, Romulan, and Silver Haze, in addition to landrace varieties like Thai, Columbian, and Afghan.