The Bixby Seed Library
Our mission is to help nurture a thriving community of gardeners and seed savers and to introduce the joy of gardening to members of our community.
The Seed Library is a free program committed to increasing our ability to feed ourselves wholesome food. We offer seeds, educational resources, and programming.
Through the time-honored tradition of seed saving, we celebrate biodiversity, nurture locally adapted, organically grown plant varieties, and foster community resilience, self-reliance, and a culture of sharing.
Why Save Seeds?
People have been saving seed for more than 12,000 years. However, in our culture, much seed-saving knowledge, along with significant biodiversity, has been lost over the last hundred years. When you grow, save, and share your own seed, you promote seed sovereignty by:
- Increasing the genetic diversity of your own seed stock
- Developing seed stock that is more resilient and better adapted to our particular climate and soil
- Perpetuating the knowledge and culture of seed saving
- Providing seed to others in our community
How to Find Seeds in Our Catalog
Seed packets are housed in a card catalog in the library’s lobby. In the catalog, seeds are alphabetized first by common name and then by variety. For example, under the broad category of Tomato, all the tomato varieties are alphabetized by variety (‘Amish Paste’ comes before ‘Brandywine’, which is followed by ‘Chico’). The seed labels indicate whether it is an “Easy”, “Medium” or “Advanced” seed saving type.
New to Seed Saving?
Be sure to start with seeds that are labeled “Easy” and learn the basics of seed saving. Read up on the subject. Begin with our brochure “How to Save Seed.” We ask that beginning seed savers grow out and return seeds from lettuce, tomato, bean, or pea plants the first year.
“Medium” and “Advanced” seeds require special planning to preserve the purity of the variety. If you return seeds to the library without taking certain precautions, they will not produce plants that are true to type.
How to Borrow Seeds
The seed library operates on the honor system, with a limit of five packets per visit. Fill out a Membership Form in the binder on the seed catalog. Each time you take seeds, enter the complete information on your Member’s Seed Record (back of membership form).
We encourage all members to learn basic seed-saving techniques so that they can return seeds to the library. That will allow us to keep the library well stocked. If you cannot save your own seeds, please donate a packet or two of fresh, commercially grown, open-pollinated (nonhybrid, non-GMO) seeds to keep our library self-sustaining.
How to Return Seeds
It is important that seeds coming back into the collection are grown and saved properly to ensure that the purity of each variety remains intact.
- Plant and harvest. Let some plants go to seed. Save seeds for yourself and the library.
- Seeds for the library should be donated in the seed envelopes available at the library.
- Write all the information for the seeds you want to donate on the envelopes.
- Add the information to your Member’s Seed Record and place your seed envelopes in the Incoming Seed box under the seed catalog drawers.
We are looking for volunteers to help with:
- Seed sorting and repacking
- Organizing or leading workshops
- Mentoring new gardeners and seed savers
- Facilitating seed library orientations
- And more!
Books in the Bixby’s Collections:
- Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth, Seed Savers Exchange, 2002. This book, which gives information on saving all the common vegetable seeds, is essential if you’re saving seeds of heirloom varieties.
- Seed libraries: and other means of keeping seeds in the hands of the people, by Cindy Connor, 2014.
- New England month-by-month gardening: what to do each month to have a beautiful garden all year, by Charlie Nardozzi, 2015
- Biodynamic gardening, by Monty Waldin, 2015
- The regenerative garden: 80 practical projects for creating a self-sustaining garden ecosystem, by Stephanie Rose, 2022
- The month-by-month gardening guide: daily advice for growing flowers, vegetables, herbs & houseplants, by Franz Bohmig, 2022