How it Works


How the Seed Library Works

The seed library works much like a book library. Members check out seeds in the early spring, and return seeds generally the following fall. For example if you were to check out a packet of arugula seed you would plant that seed  in your garden in the spring, designating a portion of it to be grown out for seed, and enjoying the rest in your salad during the season. When the designated portion goes to seed you would collect the seed, clean it from the plant material and return that seed to the library. Due to the abundant nature of seed it will be easy for you return a great deal more seed than you originally checked out for the future use by other members. In this way the capacity of the library grows with every member and every season.

Members are also welcome to donate seed at any time. It may be something you had originally bought from a seed company and have been growing and saving seed from for years in your garden, something that caught your eye in a friends garden and you collected seed from, or a family heirloom passed down. You would donate such seed because you want to share this unique variety with others, and because you want to see the library grow.

Returned as well as donated seed must be clean, pure and mature to be of use in the library and among its members.

One very important corner stone of the seed library is education. We strive to provide to our members all the education they will need to become proficient seed savers. Some plant types are much easier than others, and there is a whole world to be discovered once you get the seed saving bug! We offer classes, publications and online references, as well as social opportunities for members to meet and share successes and learning opportunities. It is crucial to our mission of protecting our biological diversity to train as many people as want to learn the intricacies of seed saving and even breeding.

Why Become a Member

Since when do you have to pay for a library card??? Unlike your favorite public library where you check out books this library is not publicly funded. It was founded and is operated by two farmers with visions of food security, expanding biodiversity, resilient community, and the common wealth of abundance. Members of the library share these visions, and a passion for empowered gardening. Your annual membership fee, in addition to grants and donations, make the operation of the library possible.

As small farmers we know too well the reality of working hard for little pay and it is our goal to eventually pay ourselves and others who work for the seed library, just as employees of the public library are paid. This is a critical part of making the library sustainable into the future.

By becoming a member of the Snake River Seed Library you are taking definitive action towards creating the world you want to live in. You are joining a network of passionate seed savers from all over the political, economic and ideological spectra. Some just think seeds are cool, and some think the world is about to end and seeds are our only hope, most are somewhere in the middle- novice and avid gardeners alike, excited to be deepening their participation both in their own garden and in their community.

Member Benefits

As a member of the library you will

  • have full access to the entire catalog of seeds
  • be able to “check out” as many varieties of seed as you like free of charge
  • receive a ‘zine (actual hard copy) detailing how to save seed
  • have online access to tons more information and support on topics ranging from how to save seed , why to save seed, the disaster of GMOs (and what we can do), to info on other local organizations doing good work in all these areas
  • be privy to the Snake River Seed Library calendar of events which will include educational events designed specifically for SRSL members, other fun SRSL events such as our annual November Seed Gala (and barn dance!???), local seed swaps and other community events of interest
  • become part of a community of seed freaks and geeks, at last!!!

Member Responsibilities

Even though it has the less-than-thrilling title of “responsibilities” this is really the fun part for the seed geek in all of us. As a member it is you responsibility to

  • learn to be a good seed saver- we can help!,
  • save mature, pure seed from whatever you check out from the library,
  • clean the seed,
  • return that seed to the library (there will be A LOT of seed once you know how to save it, plenty for you and the library, you’ll often be able to return up to 200x the amount you checked out!!),
  • commit to a non-GMO seed sanctuary in your garden- there are a million reasons why this is necessary (saving GMO seeds is illegal for one) and desirable for  gardeners, seed savers and seed libraries alike, we’ll offer a lot more information on this topic through our website and classes.

Membership Challenge

We hope that as you get more and more into saving seed you’ll want to save more than just what you check out from the library- your favorite cherry tomato, that crazy color of hollyhock you’ve never seen anywhere else, etc and that you’ll want to share them with the other members of the library. We’ll always take donations of your pure, mature, clean seed, and we’ll lower the yearly membership fee for you.

Some of you will become so inspired by your seed saving that you will want to venture into the realm of breeding!!! It takes a mere 7 years to create an entirely new variety (again, more info about this through the website). We can’t wait to see what members might experiment with, and as a proud plant breeder we hope you’ll want to show off by sharing through the library!

How To Use the Library

Once you have become a member of the library you will be able to log on to the website, get tons of information about seeds saving, and begin checking out seeds!

On the Library Catalog page you will find just that- a catalog of all the seeds contained in the library with variety descriptions. It’s much like shopping in an online seed catalog, click on the varieties you want and proceed to “check out”, only you will not be charged, as you are essentially borrowing the seed. You will be permitted one packet per variety (which will be PLENTY for your home use and to save seed from), and we will provide you with some guidelines as to which seed you may or may not want to check out based on your know-how. Some seed is much easier than others to save. Seeds will be shipped to you after you place your order.

There will also be limited opportunities to come out to the the actual library itself and check out seeds there.

At the end of the season you will take the clean, pure, mature seed that you have collected from the varieties you checked out and you will return them by mail, or at our annual Seed Gala to the library for use by other members next year!

How to Become a Member

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