Duluth library begins lending fruit, veggie seeds

Published 10:02 am Friday, October 11, 2013

DULUTH — Gardeners who want to plant heirloom fruit and vegetable plants will soon be able to get free seeds from the Duluth Public Library.

About 60 public library systems across the nation maintain seed libraries but this is believed to be the first in Minnesota.

Starting next year the program will allow patrons to borrow up to 10 packets of seeds for varieties of tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas. The library simply asks that gardeners save some of the resulting seeds and return them so the library can continue its collection.

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“With this many people interested in a seed library and reading about them in other parts of the country it seemed like the time was right to do this,” library manager Carla Powers said. “Seed libraries have been popping up in more and more public libraries around the country.”

Along with the seeds, the library will provide educational materials and classes to help people become successful gardeners and seed savers. Borrowers will be asked to return seeds within nine months, although they won’t be fined if they don’t bring seeds back.

All the library’s seeds will be for heirloom plants that are suited for the northern growing season. Heirloom plants have lineages not affected by hybridization, which reduces diversity.

Similar programs have popped up in Wisconsin, including at the La Crosse Public Library. That program has proven popular because people are increasingly interested in eating local and knowing where their food is coming from, library spokeswoman Kelly Becker said.

The La Crosse program, which was launched in February, shared more than 600 seeds as of August.