Seed saving FAQ

Everything you need to know about using our Seed Library

Whether you’re new to seed saving or a seed saving expert, you may have a few questions about the best way to use our Seed Library resource.

We’ve compiled a list of our most frequently asked seed saving/seed library questions that should hopefully give you the answers you’re looking for.

What does being a member of the Seed Library entail?
By joining the library, you get access to the seed collection, seed saving education and resources, and our quarterly newsletter.

Is there a cost to join the Seed Library?
No! Becoming a member and accessing seeds and resources from the library is all free.

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.

How do I return seeds I’ve saved?
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 contacting us.

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. If you can save and return seeds, please do!

Can I donate seeds?
Yes! If you would like to donate seed not already in our collection, you can 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!

Does the Seed Library 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!

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 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!

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 can I learn more about saving seed?
Visit! There you’ll find downloadable seed saving resources, a map of seedy folk around BC, and more info on community seed sharing. You can also visit to see our upcoming free seed saving workshops. All workshops are hosted by experienced seed growers, and cover the foundations of saving quality seed!