Just like checking out a book from a book library, the Richmond Community Seed Library allows members to “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.
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, companion herbs and flowers. These are easy to save seeds from and are suitable for seed saving in an urban environment. The library accepts donations of these vegetable 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
Become a member of the Richmond Community Seed Library is free for members of the society (i.e. Richmond Community Gardener) or you can sign up here (membership is $10). You can also sign up during your first visit to the seed library and check out seeds for the first time.
2. Visit the Seed Library to Borrow and Return Seeds
Our Seed Library is located at our office in Paulik Park. Members can check out up to three varieties on their first visit, and two more varieties during the same season on a different date. Please fill out this form for seeds you would like to check out and we will arrange a time for you to drop by the office. We will also host mobile seed swaps, sign up as a member to join!
3. Save Seeds
Grow out your crop, harvest some for personal use and save the rest for seeds! For the 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.
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. If you are unable to save seeds, we still welcome donations of OP (open-pollinated), less than 1 year old seeds, and no F1 or F2 seeds (1st and 2nd generation hybrids). Please review the Seed Return/Donation Guidelines.
Seed Return/Donation Guidelines
Quantity of Seed
We ask that seed library members return a minimum of 10x the number of seeds that they originally borrowed. This is a soft rule. If you don’t have enough seeds, but would still like to make a donation we would be happy to accept a smaller donation.
Larger donations allow for the seed library to be sustained by community seed savers, and helps with the reality that not every seed library member will be successful in saving and returning seeds of every variety they borrowed.
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.
- Variety & Varietal Description
- Year Saved
- Parent Seed Sources
- Distance grown from other varieties of the same plant type
We hold two “How to Save Seed” workshops in August or September. Please check this page and our event calendar soon for updates.
- All workshops have been delayed or cancelled due to the COVID pandemic. We will be starting workshops again as soon as we can.
Seed Saving Resources
- Six tips for Seed Saving
- A Seed Saving Guide For Gardeners and Farmers
- How to Save Bean and Pea Seeds
- How to Save Lettuce Seeds
- How to Save Tomato Seeds
- The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security Webinar Series
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 twice 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. Learn how to become a Volunteer or contact us if you would like to volunteer as a Seed Librarian.
Our current volunteer roles are on hold. We will be resuming all volunteer opportunities when it is safe again.
We appreciate your patience and understanding!