Just like checking out a book from a book library, seed library members can ‘check out’ seeds from the seed library. Members then plant the seeds, grow the plants, and let some go to seed. Seeds are then collected, dried, cleaned, labelled and returned to the library for use by members the next year. The Richmond Community Seed Library was started in 2012.
A seed library promotes food security by encouraging the community to keep and exchange food plant seeds that are grown locally and organically and are open-pollinated. It also works to increase community members’ engagement with our food system and overall level of self-sufficiency. Through this project, we aim to grow a robust local food system with increased food production and food security across Richmond.
Types of Seeds In the Seed Library
The Richmond Community Seed Library collection is focused on beans, peas, lettuce and tomatoes. These are easy to save seeds from and are suitable to seed saving in an urban environment. The library accepts donations of these vegetables seeds, as well as other types of vegetables that are easy to save and suitable for urban spaces, especially if they are locally-adapted, culturally-relevant, or have other significant ties to the Richmond community, and they follow the Seed Donation/Return Guidelines.
How to Get Involved
1. Become a Member
Becoming a member of the Richmond Community Seed Library is free and simple. You can sign up during your first visit to the seed library and also check out seeds for the first time. Seeds can be checked out from January to June, but you can sign up as a member and return or donate seeds any time.
2. Visit the Seed Library to Borrow and Return Seeds
Members can check out up to three varieties on their first visit, and two more varieties during the same season on a different date. There are two options to visit the seed library:
1. Drop by the seed library at the following dates and locations:
Seedy Saturday: March 3rd, 2018
2. Arrange a time to drop by the Richmond Food Security Society office.
Want to check out or return seeds but can’t make it to one of the dates listed above? If you are already a member, or interested in becoming a member, and would like to borrow or return seeds to the seed library, you can visit the seed library at our office. Please contact the seed library coordinator to arrange a date and time.
3. Save Seeds
For the Richmond Community Seed Library to be a sustainable community program, seed library members save and return clean and viable seeds to maintain the collection of seed in the library. To help make this happen, we provide informational resources and offer workshops throughout the year to help seed library members become confident seed savers. Please see below for seed-saving resources and more information about workshops. Contact us if you have questions about seeds you borrowed, or need help to make sure the seeds you save and return are viable and suitable for the library.
Collect, dry and clean seeds from your healthiest and most productive plants and return some to the Seed Library to re-stock the collection and share with others. Please drop by an event at the locations and dates that are listed above, or contact the seed library program coordinator to set up a time to return or donate seeds to the library during our office hours.
Seed Return/Donation Guidelines
Quantity of Seed
We ask that seed library members return a minimum of 10x the amount of seed that they originally borrowed. (This may seem like a lot, but each plant produces a lot of seeds!). This allows for the seed library to be sustained by community seed savers, and balances the reality that not every seed library member will be successful in saving and returning seeds of every variety they borrowed. The ideal minimum quantity of seeds is:
– lettuce & tomatoes: 100 seeds
– beans and peas: 200 seeds
Information to Include with Seed Returns and Donations
The following details are required for all seeds added to the seed library and members will be asked to fill out a Seed Return Form. This form will be provided when you visit the seed library to donate or return seeds.
- Variety & Varietal Description
- Year Saved
- Parent Seed Sources
- Distance grown from other varieties of the same plant type
We do not have any workshops scheduled for the next few months but stay tuned as we have exciting plans for the winter months!
Seed Saving Resources
- Six tips for Seed Saving
- A Seed Saving Guide For Gardeners and Farmers
- How to Save Bean and Pea Seeds
- How to Save Lettuce Seeds
- How to Save Tomato Seeds
- The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security Webinar Series
Interested in volunteering with the Seed Library?
Community members can volunteer as Seed Librarians to help maintain the collection, distribute seeds to members and collect seed returns and donations. Seed Librarians typically volunteer once a month from January to November for events, as well to help with managing the seed library, including tasks such as seed packaging inventory. You don’t have to be a seed-saving expert to volunteer with the seed library, but we do require volunteers to have some gardening experience. Check out our current volunteer opportunities or contact us if you would like to volunteer as a Seed Librarian.