The Salem Public Library launched its Seed Library on May 13th, 2017. The Salem Seed Library is a free lending library with organic and heirloom seeds donated by the Friends of Salem Library, the Virginia Cooperative Extension, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., and the Seed Exchange, as well as any other seeds donated by Seed Library patrons.
You do not need to have a library card to participate; simply log the seeds you borrow, return, or donate in our Log Book so we can keep track of usage statistics. We ask that you limit the number of seed packets you take to 3 per visit, so we can reach as many gardens as possible! The Seed Library is sponsored by the Friends of Salem Library and is a partnership program between the Salem Public Library and the Virginia Cooperative Extension. Generous seed donations were received from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company, Northwest Hardware on Williamson Road in Roanoke, and the Seed Savers Exchange.
What is a Seed Library?
The Salem Seed Library is a collection of seeds freely available for our patrons to grow at home. This program encourages health and learning by helping our residents try a variety of seeds.
Why have a Seed Library?
- Highlights emphasis on organic and heirloom seeds
- Encourages direct engagement with and between local citizens
- Increases visibility of the movement to cultivate independence from commercially- produced seeds
- Improves your health, combats stress, and makes you more likely to eat fresh produce if you grow it yourself
How does it work?
The seeds you borrow are lent to you free of charge. Our hope is that by taking these seeds, you will make a commitment to planting and growing them with the intention of returning the seeds from successfully-harvested plants to keep the growing cycle going!
To borrow seeds from our Seed Library:
- Select up to three packets of seeds for your home garden.
- Enter your information in our Seed Library Log so we can keep statistics on interest, use, success, and returns.
- Leave your contact information in the “Contact Me” box or with library staff if you would like to be informed about future gardening programs.
- Take any handouts (growing guides, etc.) that will help you with your garden.
- Once you have “checked out” your seeds, it’s time for the fun part: growing them into productive plants! By taking the time to plan, prepare, and care for your garden throughout the growing season, you’ll ensure that your flowers, herbs, vegetables, or fruits will live a full life cycle - complete with viable seeds to save and return to the Salem Seed Library.
As the season draws to a close, pick up some empty seed packets from the Seed Library. There will be spaces to note the type of seed, season year, location of growing, and more so the next person to use your seeds can grow with knowledge and confidence. After the season, carefully follow instructions to harvest and dry your seeds (available here and in print at the Salem Seed Library).
Please be certain that:
- The plant from which you are harvesting seeds was not diseased.
- You do not try to save seeds from hybrid plants (they will not produce plants that are the same as the parent plants).
- The plants from which you harvest seeds are organically grown, or that if they are not, you clearly mark this on the seed packet.
Notes about returning or donating seeds:
- You can place however many seeds you would like to in the seed packet to pass on to the next gardener, but we ask for enough seeds to enable the next gardener to successfully grow at least three viable plants.
- Make note on the seed packet if this plant has an interesting or endearing history—part of this process is reveling in the unique nature of these seeds!
- Also, when possible, note the growing conditions, number of days to maturity, etc.—anything that will help the next grower to be successful.
- Log the returned seed packet(s) in the Seed Library Log and place them in the appropriate area of the Seed Library.
- You are welcome to bring in new seeds or seed packets to donate to our Seed Library!
If you would like more information about the Salem Seed Library, please call the library at 540-375-3089 and our staff would be happy to answer any questions you may have.