Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday - The Seed Lending Library

Alas, since I wrote this post in 2012, our local Broome County Public Library has discontinued their seed lending library.  However, the movement itself has grown.

Some public libraries lend seeds, which the public can take, grow an harvest from.  Some of these libraries also lend tools, or give gardening classes.

I wonder why our local library stopped the lending, but I believe their program ended in 2013.

Does your local library lend seeds or tools?

Libraries do so much more than lending books - they are an integral part of their communities.  What things other than lending books, DVDs or CD's does your library offer?

The Seed Lending Library

The Broome County public library, in Binghamton, new York, has started a Seed Lending Library.

"You can check out seeds at the Information Desk starting April 7th.  You will need a valid library card..."  The seeds are donated, and are organic.

There is no cost, and the seeds offered include tomato, radish, cabbage, cucumber, lettuce, melon (noting melon can be a bit of a gamble crop here in upstate NY-I hope what they are offering is a short season variety) cilantro, parsley and broccoli.

Apparently some public libraries out in California have had similar programs.  I have a feeling BC Library is on the cutting edge.

The expectation is that people will save seeds from the best plants and give back to the library.  "however, you will not be penalized...."  I would hope not.  The reason given is that this is a new program. 

In a way, I have to be a little leery over the expectation that people will be expected to return seeds at the end of the year.

1.  Are people going to be educated as to exactly how to save seed and return at the end of the year?    It may be easy to save cucumber seed.  Parsley, not so much.  It is, after all, a biennial and the person has to be able to overwinter it.  There may be a similar problem with late cabbage in that the gardening season may be over by the time the cabbage bolts.  If they are community gardening, it may be impossible to keep the plants that long.

2.  Some items offered, such as eggplant, plus the aforementioned melon, are not easy to grow here.  Eggplant, especially.  I've tried to grow eggplant several times (from purchased plants!) with wildly varying success and I have about 35 years of gardening experience.  A couple of the offerings, I think, are just not good choices for beginners.

3.  Some veggies offered, such as cabbage and lettuce, don't bolt until the useful life of the plant are finished.  Again, people will have to be educated to this.  And, they will have to sacrifice the very best plants, to fulfill what is expected of them in the seed saving arena.

These, however, are quibbles and I hope this is a successful program.  With a little education, I think it can be.

Thank you, High Mowing organic seeds, for donating seeds to this program.

Do you have a seed lending program at your local public library?  Has it worked for your area?


  1. "Lending" seeds? Wow, I had no idea. It's a great idea, but it only works if people know what they're doing.

    Our libraries just do the usual: books, CDs, DVDs, audio books. I've never wondered about anything else. I should look into it.

  2. What a great idea. I've never heard of libraries lending seeds. I'm sure my local one doesn't offer anything but books, videos and ebooks. You're right about the public needing help in how to save their seed. I guess it will be a whole learning experience for them.

  3. I've never heard of this before! What a lovely idea. I suppose it could stretch to other things too!


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