Why Save Seed?

To steward biodiversity. In the past 100 years, there has been a 75%-90% loss in global crop diversity. Stewarding rare, heirloom and diverse varieties of open-pollinated seed means that seed can be shared and saved freely, increasing access for all to an abundance of ecologically grown seed.

To increase regional seed literacy. Most of the seeds grown in BC are imported patented hybrids that cannot be saved for the next season. We increase awareness around the importance of open-pollinated, organic seed and help to build the skills needed to grow locally adapted seed.

To strengthen our local food economy. 90 % of our food begins with seed. Seed libraries foster community skill and knowledge about saving seed- the foundation of our food systems. We support community self-reliance by providing free access to seed, gardening advice, and the tools grow (and share!) seed.

Where is the Victoria Seed Library (VSL)?
The VSL seed collection travels to various Greater Victoria Public Library branches in the CRD throughout March to October. Beginning in Autumn 2015, you can also find VSL seed collections in various community locations- called ‘nodes’- where each node collection will be unique to the community that caretakes it.

Does the Seed Library collection contain GMO/GE seed?
No, our collections contain only open-pollinated, ecologically grown seed, none of which is GE. We believe seed should be kept in the public domain, meaning that anyone can save their own seed!

What is a hybrid seed?
Most of the time within seed saving, the term hybrid refers to ‘F1 hybrids’, which is what commercially available hybrid seed is commonly called. F1 refers to the ‘first generation’ of offspring plants produced by a cross of two genetically different parent lines, performed in a controlled environment by plant breeders.

If you save seed from a plant that originated from F1 hybrid seed, you won’t get seed that produces offspring ‘true to type’- it won’t look like the parent plants, and you may see a wide array of genetic traits. Check your seed packets to see if they say ‘F1’- you can plant these seeds and get a good crop of veggies, but don’t try saving seed from them!

Does the Seed Library carry hybrid seeds?
No. We only carry open-pollinated seeds, so that you can try your hand at successful seed saving and get a true-to-type seed crop.

What is Open-pollinated seed?
Open-pollinated (OP) seed is openly bred from the crossing of plants of the same species through natural mechanisms (e.g. wind or pollinators). These varieties have been selected over time to have generally stable, uniform traits. When you save seed from OP seed, you will get offspring plants that also have these traits, looking and performing more-or-less like the parent plants.

Open-pollinated seeds contain enough genetic diversity to maintain vigorous growth and adaptability under changeable conditions.

Where does the seed in the collection come from?
A main focus of the Victoria Seed Library is celebrating locally adapted seed and supporting local producers to continue to do this vital work. We’re proud that our entire collection originates from donations and purchases from local organic and ecological growers.

And of course, the seed comes from our Membership! After signing out seed, Members return a portion of their successful seed crop.

Where can I learn more about saving seed?
Visit our site borrowsaveshare.com, which has many links to downloadable seed saving resources, a map of seedy folks around BC, and more info on community seed sharing. You can also visit gvpl.ca/seedlibrary to see our upcoming free seed saving workshops in and around the CRD. All workshops are hosted by experienced seed growers, and cover the foundations of saving quality seed.

What kinds of seeds will I find in the collection?
We carry open-pollinated, often rare and heirloom varieties of locally grown seed. Mostly, we have self-pollinating vegetable seed, including peas, beans, tomatoes and lettuce, with some herbs and flowers.

What does being a member entail?
Becoming a Member of the Seed Library means you get access to the seed collection, seed saving education and resources, and our quarterly newsletter. Everything is free with the Seed Library- including Membership.

Do I have to return seeds? Is there a fine?
Of course not! We ask that members attempt to save seed from the varieties they borrow and return a portion of that seed to the seed library collection – but we know that not each crop is successful all of the time. We hope you approach seed saving with curiosity and interest- a main goal of the seed library is to provide the skills necessary for our communities to steward robust collections of seed to share around.

That said, if seed is signed out and none returned, the seed library will never become self -sustaining, and many varieties will quickly become depleted.

How do I return seeds I’ve saved to the collection?
Once you seeds are harvested, cleaned and dried, head to a Seed Library day and ask one of our volunteers for a Seed Sign-in Form- a brief form that will let us know the species, variety, year, growing and harvesting methods, and any ‘seed stories’ that go along with the seed! You can also arrange to drop off seed by emailing vicseedlibrary@lifecyclesproject.ca

If you would like to donate seed not already in our collection, you can also do so by coming to a Seed Library lending day or event. Please be sure to also fill out a Seed Sign-in Form so that we can catalogue the variety with as much information as possible!