Feature

Food Rebel: Justine Hernandez

 

 

Occupation
Librarian at Pima Public Library

Location
Tucson, AZ

Favorite Food
Peppers

Rebel Story
I’ve worked for the library since 1999 in various incarnations over the years. I started as a page shelving books and then a clerk and so on and I went to school to become a librarian. I was just so enamored of the profession, of my colleagues, and it’s always about public librarians in particular that have this sort of social justice bend. They’re sort of hell bent on making sure that the playing field is level and that everybody has access to resources that are going to empower them and edify them and just make a strong community. That was what I was really drawn to. And that opportunity to really work with people directly. So when the idea of the seed library first came to be it seemed like absolutely that this was something that needed to be incorporated into the fold of the public library system because it was about providing access to a resource that was hopefully going to empower folks to not only eat different but just start thinking about the community. I don’t think that people are going to start becoming subsistence farmers just because of the seed library but I think the implications are people are going to start to think more about what they dump down the sink that goes into the soil. People are going to start thinking about sharing and what it means to be part of a community.

Q&A

Why are seeds important?

for most folks seeds are important because it was actually our birthright. I think that people talk about Thomas Jefferson all the time and his connection to seeds and he understood how important it was and sent people when they traveled to bring back seeds. Seeds are about diversity and having variety and that’s important because we’ve experienced in our history when there’s a dearth of diversity and people have faced famine. It’s a when you put your eggs in one basket sort of thing. They are our connection to the land and to food and to one another. So seeds are integral to that and seeds are about sharing and reciprocation.

What is the problem with seeds in America?

We are not in control of our seeds or food supply any longer. Whereas we once were and it was our birthright. You could write to the USDA to get your seeds. It was part of who you were as a citizen of the United States and other parts of the world as well. We saved seeds and shared seeds to ensure that our communities were well fed and sustained and we have lost control of our seeds. Seeds have been bought up and retired. Varieties have been retired just for the sake of a few varieties of corn, or wheat or soy bean that permeate our foods.

What is the solution to the problem?

Community seed libraries are a really an important way to get seeds back in the hands of people and get them moving again. They’re not long these static things in gene banks either. This is definitely different than the Svalbard Seed Bank. This is keeping them circulating, moving and changing.