seed libraries

Have you ever visited your local library to check out …

Photo by Craig Dietrich via Flickr


It’s a new trend that’s “going fungal,” according to Rebecca Newburn, who started the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library in California in 2010.

When Newburn launched her library in collaboration with the Richmond Public Library, there were about five such seed lenders in the nation—now there are over 300.

“You may be asking, ‘How can you borrow seeds?’ The basic is idea is that you take seeds home (for free), plant them, let some go to seed, then return some of these next-generation seeds to the library for others to borrow,” Newburn explains. “Don’t worry. We don’t have fines if you don’t return seeds.”

Photo by Jonathan McIntosh via Wikimedia Commons

It makes perfect sense to merge seed-lending with book-lending, don’t you think?

“[It] is such a lovely fit because public libraries are about providing access, and they are a commons of the community,” said Newburn. “Our mission and their mission just seemed like they dovetail beautifully together.”

Plus, she says that the document storage conditions within libraries (dark, cool, and dry) are also conducive to seed preservation.

Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to serving the community of Richmond, the library is excited about helping others establish their own seed-lending services. They offer detailed start-up ideas on their Create a Library page and support in the form of a Seed Libraries Social Network.

Here’s a little video that illuminates more about seed-lending and borrowing. But before you watch, take a minute to sign the Protect Seed Libraries petition to prevent seed libraries from being “regulated out of existence due to misapplication of seed laws by several state departments of agriculture.”

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    This is a great idea and one I have not heard of or seen locally in our library. There is a local farm that is located on conservation land that is working on this project with some federal funding to support our local school gardens and the public school Farm to School project. Right now the focus is on lettuces which are grown at the school farm and used with local farm produce to provide school cafeterias with fresh lettuces for salads everyday.

    Happy Easter MaryJane!

    • MaryJane says:

      Happy Easter to you too, Winnie! BTW, I LOVED the little sitting hen you made for Easter decor. Adorable and so very famrgirl of you. Who says a farmgirl can’t have chickens ANYWHERE she lives!

      We have plenty of family stuff planned for later today and tomorrow that include out-of-town visitors, not to mention I have a calf due any minute. I’ve been getting up twice every night to check on her. Maybe she’s going to have an Easter baby.

  2. CJ Armstrong says:

    Hmmmm . . . I’m not sure our library has a seed library but it is certainly worth checking out! 😀

  3. bonnie ellis says:

    I’ll have to check out our libraries here. I haven’t seen this yet. What a really cool idea.

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