I was asked how to build a seed library in my messages THREE times(!) so I thought a part II to my blog on Seed Libraries and Why You Need One would be a good idea.
How to Build a Seed Library
Seed libraries typically organize and distribute seeds using a system that’s both accessible and practical for community members. Here’s a closer look at how the seed storing and lending process usually works, including the use of seed packets:
- Seed Storage: Seeds are stored in a variety of containers, such as envelopes, jars, or specially designed seed packets. These containers are often labeled with important information about the seed variety, including its name, planting instructions, and any specific growing tips. The goal is to keep seeds dry, cool, and protected from pests, which helps maintain their viability over time.
- Packaging: Many seed libraries use small, homemade or commercially purchased packets for individual seed varieties. These packets are typically made from paper, which is an affordable and environmentally friendly option. Volunteers or library staff usually prepare these packets, filling them with a specified number of seeds and labeling them with relevant information for the borrower.
- Cataloging and Organization: Seeds are cataloged and organized in a way that makes it easy for borrowers to find what they’re looking for. This might involve sorting seeds by type (vegetables, herbs, flowers), by planting season (spring, summer, fall), or by other categories (e.g., easy-to-grow, needs full sun). The seed library may use a physical catalog, an online database, or simple signage to help members navigate the collection.
- Borrowing Process: Members of the seed library can browse the collection and choose packets of seeds they would like to grow. The borrowing process is typically based on an honor system, with members encouraged to save and return seeds at the end of the growing season. However, there’s usually no strict obligation to return seeds, recognizing that not all gardeners will be successful in saving seeds or that some plants may not produce viable seeds.
- Returning Seeds: Those who are able to save seeds from their plants are encouraged to return some to the seed library. These returned seeds are often repackaged into new seed packets and added to the library’s collection for the next growing season. Before returning seeds, members may need to dry and clean them properly. Seed libraries sometimes offer workshops or resources on how to do this.
- Education and Community Involvement: Many seed libraries also focus on educating members about seed saving techniques and sustainable gardening practices. Workshops, demonstrations, and printed materials may be provided to help ensure the success of borrowers in growing their plants and saving seeds.
The approach to packaging and lending out seeds can vary from one seed library to another, depending on resources, the size of the community, and the goals of the program. Despite these differences, the underlying principle remains the same: to share seeds and knowledge within the community, promoting biodiversity and food sustainability.
Free Printable Seed Packet
Click on the picture and download