Just as one seed can produce many seeds, one idea can change many lives. Free public libraries were revolutionary in their time because they provided access to books and knowledge that had not previously been available to a large segment of the population. A free seed lending library can also provide people with a chance to transform their lives and communities by providing access to fresh, healthy food that may not otherwise be available.
The East Palo Alto seed library is a lot like a traditional library in a number of ways. Patrons of the seed library need to sign up, learn how to “check-out” seeds, and of course the library is free! The big difference is that instead of checking out books or DVDs like a traditional library, patrons can check out seeds to grow in their gardens at home. Patrons can also sell a lot of what they grow at the local farmer’s market and add a level of sustainability to the project.
While this library is at the East Palo Alto Library in San Mateo County, California, it’s modeled after the seed library in Richmond, California, but with a couple of significant differences. The first is that the residents are not encouraged to save seeds or return any seeds. The library and their partnered organization, Collective Roots, are simply trying to provide access to fresh fruits and vegetables in an otherwise fairly barren food desert. The second is that the library box itself is made from recycled and found materials with the exception of the white boxes.
Many other libraries are starting to partner with local gardening organizations to create seed libraries. Contact your local library if you're interested in starting one yourself or to see if they already have one.
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