Seed Lending Libraries Bloom

Posted Wednesday, April 6, 2011 - 13:37
Graphic promoting the San Francisco Seed Library

San Francisco Public Library’s Potrero branch has opened a seed-lending library, making it at least the fourth public library with such a program.

Seed libraries allow patrons to “check out” carefully organized vegetable seeds to plant on their own. After harvesting the crops, they save and return seeds to be used in the next growing season.

“Potrero Hill residents love gardening, and there are a number of burgeoning private and community gardens on the hill,” said Lia Hillman, manager of the Potrero branch. “The Seed Library offers the library the opportunity to promote urban sustainable organic gardening in our neighborhoods by disseminating seeds.”

The branch’s seed-lending program is a partnership with Transition SF and the San Francisco Permaculture Guild. Those organizations provided the seeds to start the program, and will be giving programs at the library on seed saving, the technique that will allow gardeners to recover and return seeds for next year. The library is “providing the space and circulation expertise for the project, on a pilot basis,” SFPL Public Relations Officer Michelle Jeffers told American Libraries. The branch also has a collection of gardening books and can offer reference advice on gardening.

Other public libraries that house seed-lending programs include Richmond Public Library and Alameda Free Library in California, and the Fairfield Woods branch of Fairfield (Conn.) Public Library.

4/13/11 update: PC Sweeney reports that East Palo Alto branch of San Mateo (Calif.) Public Library is also starting a seed library.