Once upon a time when I was at the Westmount Public Library, I saw something to get excited about: they’re reusing their old card catalog, situated near the main circulation (borrowing) desk, as a Seed Library.

I spoke with Daniel, who is responsible for it. It started in May 2016, and last year they reopened it in April 2017, when they learned that’s way too late for most gardeners. So this year, they’re opening the seed library on Monday, February 26. The quick explanation of what it is? “Free seeds for members for more than 50 varieties of plants. ”

You need a library card to use it ($130/year for non-residents, $70/six months, or $50/year for students), but the terms of “borrowing” are generous. You can take up to three packets per day, and at the end of the season, return some of your newly cultivated seeds to the library.

How does a Seed Lending Library work?

Seed Lending Library: so simple!

Here is how you can contribute to the seed catalog: 

You’ll have to look up how to harvest and dry the seeds – some will be ready and dry to begin with (mostly flower seeds), some will need to be dried and cleaned before packaging them. But this is also an education project so that people learn how to save seeds and grow from them again. The library has also hosted some workshops on this since it got the seed library.

How to contribute to the Seed Library

How to share your seeds with the Seed Library

They are looking for well-dried seeds in Ziploc bags. There’s not really any limit to what kind:

  • Herbs
  • Flowers
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Beans
  • Heirloom varieties of plants

If you can’t afford the library membership (which comes with free books and audio/visual collections!) and you want to take advantage of this offer, make friends with someone in Westmount. Or perhaps you can help start a seed sharing system in your own library,  if they haven’t done so already.

Update: on the Great Gardening Weekend plant giveaway, I found out the library across the street from me has done exactly that:

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Also published on Medium.