Richmond Community Seed Library

RFSS Seed LibraryJust 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:


Tuesday, January 31st, 2017 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (8771 Lansdowne Road) during KPU ecoDays


Sunday, February 12th, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.


at Gulf of Georgia Cannery Farmers’ Market (12138 Fourth Avenue, Steveston)


Saturday, March 4th, 2017 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.


at Thompson Community Centre (5151 Granville Ave) during Richmond Seedy Saturday


Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.


at Richmond Cultural Centre (7700 Minoru Gate) during the Richmond Community Garden Club March Meeting


Saturday, April 22nd, 2017 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.


at Hugh Boyd Secondary School at 9200 No. 1 Road during the Richmond Earth Day Youth (REaDY) Summit


Thursday, May 25th, 2017 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.


at James Whiteside Elementary School at 9282 Williams Rd during the Community Carnival/Spring Fair


Friday, July 14th, 2017 Time TBA


at Thompson Community Centre at 5151 Granville Ave during the Community Picnic


Sunday, August 20


at Garlic Festival at The Sharing Farm in Terra Nova, Richmond


Saturday, September 30th, 2017  Time TBA


at Harvest Festival at Garden City Lands



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. 



4. Share/Return Seeds


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


Dave Thomson by Anita Georgy


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.


  • Type
  • Variety & Varietal Description
  • Year Saved
  • Parent Seed Sources
  • Distance grown from other varieties of the same plant type





Home-Scale Seed Saving


Saturday, March 4th, 2017 @ 10:30 a.m. at Seedy Saturday


Thompson Community Centre, 5151 Granville Ave


Join organic farmer and seed producer, David Catzel, as he discusses how to harvest, clean, and store seeds grown and saved from your home garden. He will highlight easy to save seeds for beginners, and also why some plants are more suited to urban seed saving. In this free workshop, David will demonstrate how easy and enjoyable it is to save some of your own seeds, and help you become a backyard seed saver without the need for specialized equipment or advanced training.


Save your spot by pre-registering online!



GMO vs Hybrid vs Open Pollinated: How are they different?


Saturday, March 4th, 2017 @ 12:30 p.m. at Seedy Saturday


Thompson Community Centre, 5151 Granville Ave


Join organic farmer and seed producer, David Catzel, as he discusses the differences between Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), hybrid, and open pollinated seeds. In this free workshop, David will bring clarification to these concepts and dispel common misconceptions so participants can feel confident in knowing what they are and how to use the terms properly.


Save your spot by pre-registering online!



Seed Saving Resources




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.