CO-Horts Blog

Monday, April 20, 2020

Seed Libraries

by Yvette Henson

Seed Libraries are fun and they also serve important roles in our communities!  The most important role, in my opinion, is to support a more resilient local food system.  You may ask, ‘How does a seed library do that’?  The ideal of a seed library is not only to provide seed and make gardening more accessible but to educate and grow seed-savers who will grow their favorite varieties in their gardens, allowing some of their best plants go to seed.  Then they will have seeds for themselves and to share with their local seed library for other people to grow in their gardens.

Plant genetics work so that when carefully done, saving seed, will result in plants that are better adapted to the local growing conditions they are grown in.

A reliable local seed source is an often-overlooked, but vital part of a local food system.  In addition to the benefits of having seeds for plants adapted to local growing conditions, it is important to have a reliable source of seed.  Consider our current situation with COVID-19. Many seed racks are emptied of their seeds and seed companies are running out of seed and/or having a hard time filling orders.   This is good for the seed companies and an encouraging sign that more people want to grow food.   A Seed Library with local seeds is an important source of seeds. 

carrots gone to seed
I was listening to a podcast the other day.  The guest was Ken Greene, owner of Hudson Valley Seed Company.  He is a huge proponent of seed libraries and seed savers.  In the podcast, he said something that inspired me: “We can look at this increase in seed buying as that people are worried or are ‘freaking out’ but part of it is also that seeds are hopeful and embody this sense of potential…”. 

perpetual spinach (chard) seed
I have been blessed to work with our local Lone Cone Library and Master Gardeners to develop the San Miguel Basin Regional Seed Library.  A few of our goals are to maintain and provide a collection of pure, healthy seeds for community use, to educate our community how to grow and save seed successfully and to develop a source of regionally adapted seeds. You can find more information about our seed library on our website (Agriculture/Local Food page):

San Miguel Basin Regional Seed Library 
Many Extension Offices around our state work with their local seed libraries in similar ways. At the moment most libraries and other locations that house seed libraries are not open to the public and yet they may have found creative ways to distribute seeds.

Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance has a list of seed libraries in Colorado:
A few other seed libraries in our state that I am aware of are:
Larimer County: Old Town Fort Collins Library has a seed library and Loveland Library will soon have one. 

Lettuce Going to Seed (photo credit Laura Parker, High Desert Seed & Garden)
If you don’t see one listed in your area, reach out to your local CSU Extension Office and/or your local library. 

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