High Plains Seed Library Grows at Albany County Public Library

Jan 26, 2016

Photo courtesy of the High Plains Seed Library

A roomful of volunteers packaged seeds on January 23 at Albany County Public Library. Photo courtesy of the High Plains Seed Library

Albany County Public Library Patrons gathered on Saturday for the High Plains Seed Library’s work day. “We had such a great turn out,” Cassandra Hunter, ACPL public services specialist. “The community is integral to the success of our seed library. It’s so refreshing to see how enthusiastic the community has been about High Plains Seed Library.”

The mission of the seed library is to provide the community with seed resources, promote sustainability, and cultivate a culture of sharing. How it works is that patrons can check out a packet of seeds in the spring. They commit to saving some of their seeds and giving them back to the seed library for next year’s gardening season. Seeds harvested here are typically better suited for Wyoming’s climate.

Hunter got the idea for the seed library when she saw the Five Valley Seed Library, whic is housed by the Missoula Public Library. She reached out to the seed library’s coordinator for basic information and online resources. “I knew that many people in Wyoming already save seeds, and I thought it would be a great asset to others if we could harness that knowledge and propagate seeds that would flourish in our climate,” Hunter said. “I’ve have struggled gardening here and I wanted to offer a library of seeds that were well suited to Wyoming.”

High Plains Seed LibraryHigh Plains Seed Library is a partnership between the Albany County Library and the Laramie Garden Club. The library selects seed saving books and resources. The library’s IT department has designed a database that will house all patron information and seed data, and Hunter plans and implements all seed-related programming, most of which is held at the library. The Laramie Garden Club contributes by providing workshop speakers and contributing financially to the development of the library.  The seed library is housed within the library, and staff will assist with checking-in and checking-out seeds.

“The High Plains Seed Library and the Albany County Public Library missions are very much parallel to one another,” Hunter said. “By enabling people with information and cultivating a sense of sharing, the spirit of the seed library and the public library are one and the same.”

The library is approaching 10,000 packets of seeds. Photo courtesy of the High Plains Seed Library.

The library is approaching 10,000 packets of seeds. Photo courtesy of the High Plains Seed Library.

Seeds need to be open-pollinated or heirloom varieties for the seed to be saved — essential for creating a viable seed library that can become self-sustaining. Because Albany County Library has a limited budget, they were unable to purchase seeds from seed companies to stock the library. The library created a successful letter writing campaign asking seed companies to donate unsold seed: they have  387 varieties and we are fast approaching 10,000 individual packets. All seed needs to be repackaged and the brand name cannot be advertised, nor listed on the repackaged item, per the Wyoming Department of Agriculture.

What is Hunter’s advice to other libraries that would like to start a seed library? “My advice would be to network! It was essential in my case to reach out to the community and find folks that had seed saving knowledge and backgrounds in plant science.”

“It has taken roughly a year of planning to create a high caliber seed library for Albany County residents,” she added. Late spring, early summer is a great time to start planning to maximize seed donations. Another component she suggests is to develop a basic seed saving presentation that can be offered during planting and harvest seasons to encourage seed saving. The library has spent the fall and winter focusing on repackaging and labeling all of the seeds and developing programming that has a seed saving component.

Cassandra Hunter may be contacted at the Albany County Public Library at chunter@albanycountylibrary.org or (307) 721-2580.

For more information on the High Plains Seed Library:

If you have a question about this or any other article, please contact us at statelibrary@wyo.gov

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