As the one of the somewhat-more-web-literate members of the Hilltown Seed Saving Network, I was asked if it would be possible to create a Virtual Seed Library, for people throughout the Hilltown region to register what seeds they’ve saved, along with cultivation information and availability. Having designed websites, I knew it was possible, but being a designer, and not a coder, I wasn’t sure how. After setting out trying to figure out which code to learn to set this up, I realized how much I don’t know. Even identifying what language or platform to use was becoming an obstacle, and the goal of getting a seed library interface up online by this fall’s big seed swap event would be near impossible.
Ours is a new group, just barely a year old, but our numbers are growing exponentially. The urgency of local food security and preservation of heirloom crops is hitting a groundswell. One of the things we’ve noticed is the vast diversity of crops and varieties being grown and actively cultivated in our area, and the sharp interest people have in finding out that other farmers and gardeners are doing. With numbers starting to bump up in to the range of 80 or 90 people trying to share information, and news of what’s being acheived passing by heresay and word of mouth, a centralized database was the only thing that made sense to make the most amount of information available in one place as possible.
The Hack for Western Mass event has been a tremendous catalyst in getting to reach our goal. Even before the event, connecting with Lou Franco and Beryl Hoffman and others through the Hackpad gave us a chance to identify what platform would best address this problem (turns out I was going about it the hard way!), and got me to organize the look and function of the site before they even started coding. It’s been phenomenal to see them put together in a day and a half what would have taken me many, many months, if I’d ever been successful at all. The result is shaping up to be a database that functions the way we hoped it would, with a user-friendly interface that will allow several organizing members of the Seed Saving Network to administer the database without having to learn code.
We also had Sheila Heady, who’s special interest is social media, to hook up the group with a Facebook page and Twitter account to get the word out about meetings, events and newsletters.