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Seed libraries

Getting seeds for your garden may be as simple as visiting the library. Seed libraries are cropping up to help you grow food and learn the art of seed saving.
The next time you're in the library, see if you can check out garden seeds along with your books. Seed lending libraries are sprouting up around the country to offer free packets of seeds, with the intent that the borrower bring back some seeds from the next generation of plants. Some of the seed libraries are in traditional book libraries. Others are also cropping up in churches, schools, and many other organizations.
 
Rebecca Newburn is the co-founder of the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library in Richmond, California. The program offers educational resources about seed saving, and the collection is organized by seed saving level of difficulty. Users are only encouraged to save and return seeds for plants they know how to grow and process correctly. 
 
"We have signage that says super easy, easy, and difficult," she says. "And so the things that have super easy, we're encouraging everybody to save their lettuce and peas, and beans and tomatoes. However the things that are difficult, like pumpkins, they're not necessary difficult per se, it's just that in order to return seeds that are the same variety, you have to hand-pollinate them and do something a little bit more to ensure that a bee didn't pollinate it from a different variety."
 
Newburn says there are no fines if you don't bring back seeds, even the easy ones. However, to keep from running out, the library is maintaining the collection several ways. 
 
"We'll continue to engage with companies that we value getting seeds from, and then we're also working with some master gardeners, people that have larger land spaces, some of the local horticulture departments, seeing if they'd be willing to grow out some of those more difficult things to save for the collection," she says. "The nice thing is that we're starting to find local seed savers that are hand-pollinating and then they're able to return things to the collection."
 

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