Seed Library

Our Spring 2024 growing season kicks off on Tuesday, March 12. Swing by, grab some seeds, and grow with us! Our annual plant swap is on the same day - more information below.

What is a seed library?

A seed library is a collection of seeds made freely available to the public with the goal of promoting biodiversity, sustainability, and food access. These libraries operate on a basic principle similar to that of a traditional book library, but instead of borrowing books, members take seeds to plant in their gardens.

Participants are encouraged to save seeds from their harvests and return them to the library, ensuring the sustainability of the seed collection and helping to preserve genetic diversity. Seed libraries may offer a variety of seeds, including vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers, with a focus on heirloom and open-pollinated varieties that can be more reliably saved and shared compared to hybrid seeds, which might not reproduce true to type.

Seed libraries are not only an agricultural idea but also a cultural one: a vision of a community that values sharing resources and expertise without thinking of profit.

The GCC Seed Library

The GCC Seed Library launched in the spring of 2015. It was the brainchild of librarian Hope Schneider and science faculty member Tony Reiber, with startup money provided by the Nahman-Watson Library and the science department’s SAGE program (Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy).

Librarians and Reiber toured the seed library at Hampshire College, a project launched by one of their students, during the planning phase. Science department interns and library student workers joined the effort, and continue to support the work of the seed library by sorting and packaging seeds, and also caring for plants offered during our annual plant swap. The seed library was initially open only to GCC students and staff but has since expanded to offer seeds to anyone from the community.

How does it work?

The GCC Seed Library is located on display shelves near the north entrance of the Nahman-Watson Library.
Anyone can patronize the seed library – GCC students and staff, as well as members of the public. 

1. Patrons select seeds from drawers. Patrons may select as many varieties as they like but may only take one packet, per variety.

2. Patrons fill out a user form (paper or online). Paper forms should be turned in at the front desk. Patrons can opt to receive periodic emails containing announcements about new seed varieties and workshops, seed collection instructions, and callouts for voluntary progress reports.

3. Patrons are encouraged to return clean, saved seeds to the library. These seeds will be made available during the next growing season – donors will be acknowledged on the seed envelope labels. Seeds should be returned in a clearly labeled (variety name and date seeds were collected) envelope or container. Returning seeds is not required but encouraged!

What seeds are available?
Annual GCC Plant Swap

Our 2024 Plant Swap is on Tuesday, March 12

The GCC Plant Swap is part of our annual seed library kickoff. The swap takes place in the library and is a self-serve event. Participants are invited to leave a plant and/or take a plant. You are not required to contribute to the swap in order to take an item. Instructions:

  • The plant swap is hosted in the library. We accept contributions year-round. You can also bring contributions to the event itself.
  • Indoor/outdoor plants, cuttings, divisions, etc. are welcome.
  • Items should be pest-free and healthy.
  • Items can be cuttings, potted or bare root. Bare root items should be wrapped to contain soil—the library has newspaper available.
  • Labels will be available – providing plant name and basic care is encouraged but not required.
  • Have fun!

General questions, comments, and/or suggestions? Swing into the library or email librarian Young-In Kim, . Questions relating to planting, growing, and/or harvesting seeds? Contact Tony Reiber, Natural Resources Special Program Coordinator, .