How Do Seed Libraries Work?

The Toronto Seed Library’s primary focus is on providing free and easy access to viable seeds so that as many people as possible are growing their own organic food and to encourage and enable people to save seeds through awareness, education, and community celebrations aimed at reviving seed saving culture.

All seed libraries work much like conventional public libraries, but focus instead on lending organic, native, heirloom and open pollinated seeds.

Each seed library is unique to the place and the people involved. Many are physical collections of seeds located inside public libraries, schools and community centers, or small food or health stores and places of health and worship. Some seed libraries are mobile and travel from event to event.

People visit the library to borrow and return seeds, meet fallow gardeners, attend classes, gather seed growing and saving information, participate in hands on projects and special events. People plant the seeds in their gardens, raise the plant, let an appropriate amount go to seed and bring some of those mature seeds back to the library so that the collection continues to grow.

As traditional libraries encourage mass literacy, seed libraries teach seed & food literacy.

By putting seeds back into the hands of the people, seed libraries:

Empower: Seed libraries reduce barriers to accessing seeds and resources necessary to grow and enjoy healthy food. Completing the food cycle, they further empower people to affect positive change in their lives and communities.

Educate: Seed Libraries reintroduce the culture of seed saving and the concept of the commons. They reconnect us to the natural world, increase awareness and respect for seed farming, and where our food comes from.

Conserve: Seed libraries preserve traditional crops and culture by growing and encouraging seed diversity, ensuring that the seeds of history are an integral part of a just and sustainable future.