The Chicago Seed Library launched in 2012 to create a coalition of gardeners in Chicago who are connected through an appreciation of heirloom seeds, and who understand they have a vested interest in the preservation of these seeds and their history. By linking backyard gardens, community gardens, rooftop farms, and balcony gardens across Chicago we'll create a network of seed library branches to preserve and distribute non-GMO garden seeds to fellow gardeners. Along the way we'll inspire new gardeners to participate in the age-old tradition of sharing seeds with neighbors.

How To Participate

  • Sign-up with your Email to receive updates from this site. The site will act as a newsletter. You'll only be Emailed the latest posts here which will be periodical and contain news and relevant information. 
  • Become a Chicago Seed Library branch. A seed library branch can be the personal garden of an experienced seed saver, a community garden, or a school garden. 
  • Attend the seed swaps and seed sowing & saving workshops of Chicago Seed Library branches near you.
  • Become a partner. The Chicago Seed Library is in its infancy stages, but experience has taught me that a project like this is always in need of partners of one kind of another. Get in touch.

Who started the Chicago Seed Library? 
I'm the gardener behind the mrbrownthumb gardening blog and Creative Director of One Seed Chicago. If you've visited the mrbrownthumb blog before you may have noticed that I have a fondness for saving and sharing seeds. The Chicago Seed Library is just another excuse to indulge in my passion for seeds and getting to know gardeners who feel the same way about them.

What exactly is a seed library, anyway?
A seed library, or community seed bank, is a collection of seeds which are made available to the public to promote biodiversity, heirloom garden varieties, and to teach about seed saving and starting. Seed library members "check out" seeds from the library to grow in their gardens. Some seeds that are saved from these plants are then deposited back into the library so they can be made available to more gardeners.

What is a seed library branch? 
Seed Library branches will act as stewards of the seeds distributed and will grow out them out, save the seeds and distribute them within their community. Gardeners that you distribute seeds to will then grow them out, save the seeds, and return some back into your seed library branch's circulation for you to distribute to a new batch of gardeners. 

Why are seed libraries needed?
Besides educating communities about seed saving and starting, protecting plants on the brink of extinction, (yes, garden plants can become extinct if people stop growing them) seed libraries foster community, strengthen ties, build environmental awareness, and raise awareness of food soverreignty.

Are there costs involved?
No. See library branches cannot charge for seeds added to their circulation by the Chicago Seed Library. Perhaps there might be some small fee for postage, but other than your time I can't image there being any costs associated with participating. 

Do you accept seed donations?
The first growing season of the Chicago Seed Library will involve a select number of seed library branches growing a single tomato. Seeds from those tomatoes will hopefully be saved, distributed to new gardeners who will then save them and add them back into their branch's circulation. If you have a large batch of seeds you saved from your garden I'd be happy to help you find homes for them. 

Do you accept commercial seed donations?
The Chicago Seed Library would gladly accept commercial seed donations provided they are of non-GMO, P.V.P variety by a reputable seed seller. 

What else could I do to help?
Right now I'm looking for an experienced graphic designer who can volunteer to create an identity (logo, header, template seed pack, favicon) for the Chicago Seed Library. I already have an idea of what I'm looking for I just need someone with the tools and collaborative spirit to help me create it. Also, web design would be helpful. If you think you can help get in touch