Lending Legumes – Green Thumbs Germinate With The Help Of Seed Libraries

Do you dig gardening? Do you like both giving and receiving? Then local seed libraries might be just what you’re looking for this year. With planting season quickly approaching, the tools for starting or enhancing your garden could be as close as…the library. Yes, even the public library doesn’t just lend books these days: you can also borrow seeds…for free!

Hamilton Seed Library runs out of two locations: the main branch at Green Venture’s EcoHouse, 22 Veevers Drive, and the second is located inside the Westdale branch of the Hamilton Public Library at 955 King Street West. The lending process is very simple: visit a branch, pick the seeds you’d like to take, and just fill out the log sheet provided. There are no limits on the number of seeds you can take, all they ask in return is that everyone respects that this is a community resource and only take what you would reasonably use.

In return, each borrower is encouraged to make an honest effort to save their seeds and return them to the seed library – since the system relies entirely on donations. Don’t worry – there aren’t any penalties for unsuccessful seed saving by unlucky green thumbs.

Seed libraries benefit the community in numerous ways. “Seed saving conserves seed diversity, and preserves varieties that have adapted to local conditions, meaning they are more resistant to disease and pests,” explains Erinn Todd, Manager of the Hamilton Seed Library. “Seed libraries also help address food security issues by reducing barriers for access to seeds to grow your own food crops, thus providing a sustainable, inexpensive means of generating access to fresh food. People were not always as removed from the food system as we are today, and seed libraries help reconnect people to the food community, to the environment, and to the benefits of gardening and producing your own food.”

Todd says they’ll soon be getting a supply of milkweed seeds from a property just outside of Oshawa. They also recently received some heirloom Roma tomato seeds. “Our collection is constantly changing depending on what donations come in, so there are  always new and interesting varieties to check out!” Donations are accepted year-round at either of the two branches.

The Grimsby Grows Seed Library is another free community project which aims to increase people’s ability to grow their own fresh food, as well as foster community resilience and healthy eating. The library is located in the Grimsby Public Library’s Fireplace Lounge. Here, seed packets are stored alphabetically. Just pick the one(s) you want and fill out the checkout form and leave the form at the service desk on the way out. When you bring seeds to donate to the library after harvest, they ask you to place seeds from each vegetable in its own envelope or bag and label it with the type of vegetable and the variety, and it will be added to the collection for the following year.

Why Harvest Seeds?

By harvesting your seeds and returning them to the library, you allow more individuals to participate and experience the pleasures of growing their own plants. Harvesting your own seeds allows you to develop a deeper understanding of botany and the plant kingdom. You can save money by planting your own seeds and growing your own food.

Regardless of whether you’re just starting out or have years of gardening experience behind you, take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to grow some plants, nurture them, and, of course, reap what you sow.

Local Links

Hamilton Seed Library

Grimsby Grows Seed Library

by  Allison Dempsey

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