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Seed Libraries are Sprouting Up in St. Lawrence County Libraries

Spring is officially here, and it’s time to start thinking about summer gardens! Several libraries in St. Lawrence County offer what is commonly called a “Seed Library” where community members can borrow, share, and donate all varieties of vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower seeds. 

The benefits of a seed lending library are many: it is a way to have fun, build relationships with fellow gardeners, and share resources among neighbors. Seed libraries offer an efficient and sustainable way to share community resources. They encourage experimentation, affording gardeners (or aspiring gardeners) a low-risk way to try something new.

The way a seed library works is very simple: in the spring, gardeners “borrow” seeds from the library and donate unused or surplus packets of commercial seeds for others to share. At the end of the growing season, gardeners save seeds from the plants they’ve grown and return a portion of the seeds to the library. The library stores the seeds for the winter and makes them available to users once spring arrives. 

Locally, two libraries have established seed collections: the Ogdensburg Public Library is on its fifth year and the Hepburn Library of Lisbon is on its third. Both libraries offer an assortment of vegetable, fruit, herb, and flower seeds. Some seeds are organic, non-GMO varieties, and some are hybrids or heirlooms, depending on what has been donated by local gardeners. 

The Potsdam Public Library is in the process of implementing a seed library this year and is hosting a “Seed and Plant Sharing” event on April 15th from noon to 2:00 pm. Potsdam is also planning to host a program on seed saving later in the season.

Other libraries participate in gardening programs. The Morristown Public Library has a youth garden club that worked with local volunteers and businesses last summer to design and build a raised 4×8 foot garden bed. The children planted vegetable seeds and cared for the garden throughout the growing season. At harvest time, a local volunteer helped the kids prepare a meal using fresh vegetables from the library’s garden.

The Canton Free Library offers a tool library that has more than a dozen garden and lawn tools that may be borrowed by county residents with a library card. Items include a bulb planter, garden cart, pruners, clippers, shears, and more. 

The Norwood Public Library offers a variety of canning equipment that may be borrowed by county residents with a library card. Norwood has several canning guides, multiple sets of canning utensils, and both pressure and water-bath canners. 

Libraries are a great resource for books and magazines on gardening, landscaping, and food preservation. Most books and some magazines are searchable in our online catalog at For example, the Canton Free Library subscribes to MaryJanesFarm, Cooking Light, and Cook’s Illustrated. The Hepburn Library of Colton subscribe to Country Gardens, Northern Gardener, and Rodale’s Organic Gardening. The Reading Room Association of Gouverneur subscribes to Garden Gate and the Ogdensburg Public Library subscribes to Better Homes & Gardens. 

Many of our gardening and food magazines are not cataloged, but may be checked out by visiting the library that subscribes to a specific title. For example, the Hepburn Library of Lisbon offers Clean Eating, Vegetarian Times, and Veg(an) News. The Norwood Public Library subscribes to Fine Gardening.

For more information about seed libraries, gardening, food preparation, and food preservation, contact one of the libraries above, or stop in and see what’s available. Your local public library is a great resource…. so check us out!

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