Seed Library


SNAKE RIVER SEED COOPERATIVE’s Seed Library is part of a growing movement to put seeds back into the hands of gardeners and small farmers. These dedicated individuals have historically stewarded our agricultural biodiversity, keeping millions of unique varieties of plants alive for centuries by saving and replanting seed from them year after year.

As the seed industry becomes more consolidated, varieties are lost as profit-driven corporations make proprietary (patented and owned) hybrids and GMO seeds rather than preserving open-pollinated, heirloom varieties. We have an interest in keeping these heirloom treasures alive, both for the security a biodiverse food supply offers as well as for the stories behind them that are a part of our valley’s culture.

Seed Saving Wisdom

As our seed diversity shrinks, so does our cultural wisdom about seed saving. Educating folks about how to grow and save good, pure seeds is a primary cornerstone of seed libraries, including ours. By learning the skills necessary to save seeds, people become empowered to be lifelong stewards of our seed heritage, and to share their knowledge with others. Seed saving is a wondrous, miraculous, mentally-stimulating activity that will delight even the most cynical heart as a gardener watches bees at work and an abundance of seeds pile up where just one was planted. We believe in seeds, in their power to inspire, to nourish, and to heal, and we’re excited to share our knowledge with you!

A library, not a bank

Unlike a seed bank, which stores seeds in ideal climactic conditions indefinitely, a seed library preserves seeds by sharing them among gardeners who grow them out year after year, enjoying their unique colors and flavors and textures and adding to their cultural histories. As we grow out varieties year after year in our gardens, they become adapted to our unique place on earth, which means we get to participate in creating better seeds for our area, while enjoying delicious food and beautiful flowers for ourselves!

Library seeds and seeds for sale

As a library member, you get access to the library’s entire catalog of seeds, but you’re expected to return seed off the seeds you choose. For those who would rather not deal with returning seeds but would still like to grow rad, locally-adapted seeds in our gardens, we also sell seeds as Snake River Seed Cooperative.  The Library Catalog features seeds available through the library and seeds available for purchase.

Economy of abundance

The growing and sharing of seeds creates an economy of abundance alongside our monetary economy, which is kept artificially scarce so it remains valuable. A plant has a different agenda. The more seeds it produces, the better chance of survival it has. A plant will create dozens or hundreds of seeds out of the one seed it grew from, meaning ever more seeds to share with friends and neighbors. In this way, our Common Wealth can just grow and grow!

Living wage

We believe people should be paid well for doing good work, and that is our goal. Though volunteer-driven projects have merit, for something to be sustainable over the long run, in our experience it requires at least a few folks who can pay their bills from the project to keep it going. The membership fee will help to pay wages to the folks cataloging and organizing the library and working with all the members. In addition, we will search out additional ways of fundraising to pay wages as well as pay for all the necessary office and business expenses of the library. In an ideal world, a seed library would be part of the public library system (it is in some cities!), where it enjoys an acknowledgement of its cultural importance and its operations are funded through taxpayer money. In the absence of that position here in Boise, Snake River Seed Library strives to make itself financially sustainable alongside its cultural and ecological sustainability.