Seed Libraries Growing Strong

Left: El Sobrante Public Library is the East Bay’s newest seed library (photo courtesy of the library). Right: These seed packets were created for a previous year’s collaborative seed project (photo courtesy of Richmond Grows).


The Bay Area has blossomed into a thriving hub of seed libraries.

It started with the Berkeley Ecology Center’s Bay Area Seed Interchange Library (BASIL) in 2000. Then Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, which was founded in 2010, popularized the idea by creating an easy-to-follow model of how to open such a library. The result is that now there are thousands of seed libraries globally.

Here are some ways to learn more and get involved.

Maybe you would just like to be wowed by the thousands of seed libraries that have been started globally based on Richmond Grows’ model and the over 40 in the East Bay alone!

Pay a visit to the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library website where you’ll learn how the concept of “borrowing” seeds works and how it’s a much more interactive endeavor than just checking out a book. Citizens who participate in seed libraries are part of a network of gardeners working to help preserve genetic diversity while growing delicious and beautiful plants that have an important co-evolutionary relationship with humanity and healthy ecosystems.

Rebecca Newburn, founder of Richmond Grows

Now is the perfect time to plant seeds from the library, but if you already have a garden going, you may want to save seeds from them and learn more about seed saving. Here’s a page to help you get started.

Rebecca Newburn, founder of Richmond Grows, says that people don’t need to be exclusively growing library seeds to contribute seeds in the fall. “Anyone is welcome to contribute seeds from plants that are healthy as they are adapting to the Bay Area climate,” she says.

Want to learn about a collaborative seed project in action now in the East Bay? Julia Dakin of Going to Seed tells us that they have partnered with Urban Tilth, Richmond Grows, and the East Bay Permaculture Guild to launch the East Bay Collaborative Seed Project.

“This initiative focuses on adapting various crops to thrive in the East Bay. Growing and saving locally adapted seeds within a community can yield a more productive, flavorful garden with plants better equipped to handle local pests and weather challenges,” says Dakin. ” This year we are growing runner beans, winter squash, cucumbers or melons. In the fall, we will celebrate our 2nd Annual Harvest Festival and sample squash from the project. Plants will be evaluated and remixed for maximum diversity and desirable qualities to be shared with the community through seed libraries.”