Public Libraries Are Handing Out Free Seed Packets to Promote Sustainability

seed library

Recently, a number of public libraries have come up with creative ways to encourage education through engagement. While most of these public programs—including city-wide book scavenger hunts and an immersive “Subway Library“—typically exist to foster a love of reading, one growing campaign also aims to promote sustainability by offering library members free fruit and vegetable seeds.

Known as seed libraries, these collections of complimentary seed packets are popping up in hundreds of libraries across the country. While some institutions simply give the parcels away to library card holders, others allow them to be “checked out” with the understanding that the seeds of any future plants will be returned to the library.

In addition to ensuring a cycle of seed-sharing, this pay-it-forward policy nurtures a sense of community in each local library. As Rebecca Newburn, the co-founder of California's Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, tells Atlas Obscura, seeds are “cultural documents of what we have saved and found valuable in terms of taste and community. When we take the seeds home and plant them and return them we’re actually adding another chapter.”

Though rooted in public libraries, the “free seed” phenomenon has been adopted and adapted by all sorts of organizations. If you'd like to learn more about seed sharing, stop by the The Seed Library Social Network.

In an effort to educate the public and promote sustainability, many public libraries are giving away free seeds in what are known as “seed libraries.”

Seed Library 2013 - Joel D. Valdez Main Library

USF seed library, february 2015

These programs offer seed packets to library card holders.

Free Seed Libraries

In true eco-friendly fashion, these packs of seeds are often housed in up-cycled catalog card cabinets, giving new purpose to the obsolete objects.

Baraboo Library - Seed Library!

USF Seed Library

USF Seed Library

Each library puts its own spin on the growing trend.

thanks USF seed library for the flashy trout back red romaine lettuce seeds


h/t: [Atlas Obscura, Green Matters]

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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