A Seed Library has opened at Kwantlen Polytechnic Unviersity’s Langley campus to promote food security in the local community. Seeds are loaned to those interested in growing their own food, and gardeners can return the seeds from the produce grown with what was borrowed.
The library focuses on vegetable seeds like squash, tomato, lettuce, and kale. However, they also have native flower seeds to attract and support local pollinators. Being able to grow our own food is more sustainable and creates a biologically diverse food system.
Celia Brinkerhoff, library liaison to the faculty of science and horticulture and head of the project, says the idea goes back eight years ago when a local organic farmer approached her and suggested opening a seed library.
“The seed library movement was started primarily in the United States as a public library project and [by] the time I started out it was already a part of many academic libraries … UBC has one, BCIT has one, so there is a growing network of seed libraries at universities,” Brinkerhoff says.
The seed library is open to the public, not just to KPU students, faculty, and staff. Since the seed library is run from the Langley library, it will be open during regular library hours.
Brinkerhoff says while the seed library is open to everyone, she would like to have a Community Borrower card or KPU card when checking out seeds so the library can contact borrowers about “returning” seeds. However, she says the system is at a borrower’s own pace.
“We get plenty of donations from people that never borrowed seeds, they just knew about the library,” she says. “The envelopes we have, have just enough seeds for the average backyard gardener.”
The library has guides available on how to plant properly. There are also “seedy Saturdays” in February, where community partners are available to share their knowledge on how to plant seeds and provide an introduction to basic vegetable farming.
Student participation is low in the seed library, Brinkerhoff says, but she hopes to hear from students interested in volunteering in the project to help package seeds and toss out old ones.
“Reach out to me with questions, even if it’s about [planting] seeds,” Brinkerhoff says. “It’s a small and very practical way that people can become involved with the local food system.”