“Save the World by Saving your Plants’ Seeds”
by Sarah Witman
Popular Science, August 1, 2019
Freelance pitch for Gluttony Issue
I’m a tech writer at Wirecutter (of the New York Times) and a freelance science writer. Over the past few years, I’ve written about efforts to restore the decimated Aral Sea for Discover, preventing HIV transmission in Malawi for the Pacific Standard, twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly for Popular Science, and more.
[Name redacted] shared your call for pitches for the Gluttony Issue with me, and I’m working on a piece that I think could be a good fit; here are the details:
This would be a short profile of Rebecca Newburn, a middle school science teacher who helped launch a growing network of seed libraries across the US. Seed libraries, often housed within existing public libraries, are repositories of seeds that patrons can “check out” for free and plant at home. They then harvest the bounty (be it beans, basil, or some other flora) and dry out and save its seeds to return to the library for the next person. Seed libraries are an inexpensive way for people to get involved in gardening, Newburn told me, but they have an even grander purpose. As climate change continues to threaten biodiversity, and seed-patenting by industry giants like Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont-Pioneer creates an increasingly homogenous food supply, seed libraries are one small way that communities are fighting back. Scientific studies have shown that seed libraries help preserve genetic variability and local history, promote seed sovereignty, and build food-system resiliency and security.
Thanks for taking the time to look this over! I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
All the best,