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SCPL Seed Library
The place you go for gardening books is now the same place you go for seeds to plant. The St. Charles Public Library offers heirloom and open-pollinated seeds free to the community. While a green thumb might help, a library card is not required. Seeds can be checked out, planted and returned after the growing season for other gardeners to enjoy every year.
Our heirloom seeds are truly treasures passed down from generation to generation – the varieties your grandparents and great-grandparents might have grown. Our open-pollinated seeds are newer varieties, but can also be saved and reused. The seed lending program perfectly reflects the ideals held by the St. Charles Public Library: it’s all about sharing, reuse and sustainability.
Read & Seed Garden
The Library is excited to launch our new Read & Seed Garden this year. With the help of a donation from the Huntley family and many generous donations in memory of Norman Huntley, we have expanded our popular Seed Library into the Read & Seed Garden on our property. The new garden consists of five raised beds, including a fully ADA accessible raised bed. Each garden bed represents a different theme including a Sensory Garden, a Square Foot Garden, a Tea Garden, a Children’s Garden, and a Seed Saving Garden. We scheduled Library programs to incorporate the Read & Seed Garden to make it a place of hands-on learning. We have received many compliments, including positive feedback from Farmer’s Market customers who picked up some free library produce. Thank you to the many volunteers who planted our community garden this year.
Download the Read & Seed Garden Brochure
The seed library is located at the Reference Desk. You’ll find more than 200 different types of seeds, including:
- Prairie Plant
Please know we have varying quantities of each variety. While we’re optimistic we’ll have plenty of seed choices for everyone, we cannot guarantee a specific variety’s availability.
The seed library will be accessible anytime the Library is open. As your gardening skills grow, you can bring back saved seeds for use the following season. Don’t worry if you can’t bring any back at first; you won’t be penalized.
Our goal is a self-sustaining, dynamic seed library. If you would like to make a donation please download, complete and return the Seed Donation Form along with your heirloom seed donation.
Thank you to Baker Creek, Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, and Wintersown for their generous contributions toward our growing and well-stocked seed library.
Why a Seed Library?
Our seed collection increases local biodiversity, and offers resilience to insects and other issues which often affect common, store-bought seeds/plants. The program encourages community engagement and provides an opportunity to grow a widened-variety of fresh vegetables. Best of all, the seeds are available at no cost.
The Library considers it important to pair education with the seed library. A bounty of gardening programs allows master gardeners and expert presenters to share knowledge and experience with the community.
Four Benefits of a Seed Library
- A risk-free opportunity for first-time gardeners
- Increased availability of fresh, local produce
- Experienced gardeners can experiment and grow new varieties of plants
- More plant biodiversity benefits environmental sustainability
How it Works
There are no requirements to take seeds. You do not need a library card and you do not have to save/return seeds at the end of the growing season.
Most of the seeds are easy to grow, but some are more difficult to save (to ensure the seeds grow true to the characteristics of their parents). Seeds are sorted alphabetically by the type e.g. Lettuce, Tomato, and labeled by how hard they are to save. There are Easy, Moderate and Challenging seeds, feel free to take seeds of any difficulty level.
Please take only what you intend to grow. There is no limit, but we think 5-10 packets is a good number. You can always come back for more!
Fill out the seed log so we can restock properly.
Each packet has enough seeds to grow 2-3 plants (for vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers) or one sowing for lettuce, peas and other similarly growing vegetables.
If you plant to donate seeds back to the Library, please complete a donation form and take precautions based on the difficulty level identified above.
Helpful Seed Library and Gardening Links: