Seed enthusiast David King lectures at SMC

In 1903, there were 497 different kinds of lettuce and 544 different kinds of cabbage available for farmers to grow. Now, there are only 36 kinds of lettuce and just 28 kinds of cabbage.

David King, founder of the Seed Library of Los Angeles, spoke at Santa Monica College last Tuesday about this dramatic decrease and the importance of seed saving.

“Do not let this be the generation where seeds die,” King said at the lecture.

The main reason for the diminished vegetable variety, according to King, is that farmers saved only seeds from vegetables that would withstand long-distance travel, thinking that more money would come from shipping their vegetables to larger markets.

King also mentioned that with the development of agricultural technology, the vegetables that were picked concurrently would ripen simultaneously. While this practice was convenient for large markets, it was ineffective for home gardeners, according to King.

Home gardeners would not always have a continuous supply of produce from their plants, and would therefore have to buy new seeds.

“I want to find the seeds that are going to tell a story to us, because that’s what seeds do, they come from a time before us,” said King.

According to King, vegetables have changed considerably since 1903. He said that orange carrots, which were once commonly white, red and purple, are a modern development. Tomatoes were often white, orange and golden, rather than almost always red.

SLOLA is located in The Learning Garden at Venice High School. Members and curious home gardeners meet monthly to learn about the practice of seed saving.

“[SLOLA has] concocted a list of vegetables that we think are the most important ones to save, and those are the vegetables we are starting with first,” said King.

King wants to find people who have heirloom seeds, or seeds that were produced before 1950, as he strives to preserve their existence.

“Most heirlooms became heirlooms because they tasted good, because people loved them for their good qualities,” said King.

“We are building a seed collection and repository, educating members about the  practice of seed saving, and creating a local community of seed saving gardeners,” according to SLOLA’s website.

“We seek to preserve genetic diversity, increase food security and food justice in our region, safeguard alternatives to genetically modified organisms, and empower all members through a deeper connection with nature and the experience of self-reliance.”

For more information about SLOLA, visit, and for David King’s personal blog, visit