Community seed libraries have sprung up around the world to create alternatives to the globalized farming industry. Locals in Vancouver have joined the global “Seed Sharing Movement” and established a number of seed libraries across the city. These seed libraries offer a variety of locally grown and climate-adapted seed specifically for our region. Additionally, they offer resources and tools to grow and save one’s own seed.
According to local seed saving project Borrow Save Share, we have lost between 75-90% of global crop diversity, including many heirloom and heritage crop varieties. As a result, our food crops are far less resilient in face of environmental disaster and extreme weather conditions.
While farmers and growers have saved and shared seeds for thousands of years, this practice has declined in recent years with the rise of a global food system. The global food system currently relies on the practice of monoculture farming, which encourages intensively growing a single crop on a large scale.
In Vancouver, we are lucky to have a number of dedicated individuals and community groups who offer free or low-cost #SeedySaturday events and provide educational resources.
Beyond preserving seed diversity, one of the goals is to “increase self-reliance and community resilience by focusing on community seed saving as opposed to large commercial seed suppliers,” says Grandview Woodland Community Seed Library.
Read on for a list of local seed libraries across Vancouver.
Grandview Woodlands Community Seed Library
The Grandview Woodland Community Seed Library offers community members the opportunity to “check out” seeds to grow at home. Members plant these seeds, care for the plants, and let some go to seed. These seeds are collected, dried, and returned to the library for use by members in the next year. The Grandview Woodlands Community Seed Library is a new initiative offered in collaboration with Grandview Woodlands Food Connection and Village Vancouver.
Kensington-Cedar Cottage Seed Sharing Library
In collaboration with the Kensington branch of the Vancouver Public Library, Cedar Cottage Food Network started a seed sharing library in the fall of 2013. It’s built into a cabinet at the library and is available whenever the library is open. However, Cedar Cottage Food Network coordinator Bo Del Valle Garcia says, “seeds go fast and you have better luck accessing seeds in the summer.”
Throughout each growing season, they host monthly workshops on a variety of gardening topics. Named after the Seedy Saturday events across Canada, their workshop series includes a seed swap at each event. So far, their workshops have included seed saving, starting plants from seed, specialty gardening, companion planting, and permaculture.
Come out to their monthly Seedy Saturdays at VPL Kensington Branch (1428 Cedar Cottage Mews) and Kingcrest Community Garden (4150 Knight St). Each session will have a different workshop theme. Follow updates for upcoming meet-ups on the Cedar Cottage Food Network blog.
All sessions start at Kensington Library at 11am:
- July 7th
- August 18th
- September 15th
- October 20th
- November 17th
Village Vancouver’s Seed Savers
Organized out of the Strathcona Park Field House, VV Seed Savers is part of Village Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks. They have founded and help sustain approximately two dozen seed libraries in several neighbourhoods around Vancouver ⎯ listed below⎯for community members to swap, donate, or pick up free seeds. Some of these seed libraries are accessible during regular operating hours, while others are only accessible during workshops and other public events. Several of these seed libraries are collaborative efforts between Village Vancouver and other neighbourhood food networks.
VV Seed Savers save seeds from their collaborative gardens (in Kitsilano, Strathcona, and West Point Grey), run seed saving workshops, convene Seed Saver clubs, make seed donations to community and school gardens, and have supported the rise of many of the local seed libraries. If you’d like to get involved or inquire about a new location, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their webpage. New volunteers are always welcomed and no previous experience is necessary.
Seed library is accessible at Vancouver Public Library’s Carnegie Branch (401 Main St)
Offered in collaboration with Hives for Humanity.
Fairview False Creek South Neighbourhood Food Network
Seed library is present at Village Vancouver’s Charleson Park Community Garden workshops and other events
Coming soon: Community seed library at Spartacus Books (3378 Findlay St)
Kerrisdale Transition Village Seed Savers Club
– Kits Village Seed Savers have seeds available and provide seed saving information at workshops, community events, Kits Village Collaborative Garden work parties, and the Westside Community Food Market (through Aug 9).
– Vancouver Public Library, Kitsilano Branch (2425 MacDonald St)
– Accessible at MLA David Eby‘s office (2909 W. Broadway)
Little Mountain-Riley Park
– Swap, donate or pickup seeds at Main Street Neighbourhood Village events including monthly workshops at Little Mountain Riley Park Neighbourhood House (3981 Main St) and community events such as Village Vancouver demo villages at Main Street Car Free Day
– Riley Park Community Garden (50 E. 30th Ave), offered in collaboration with Little Mountain Riley Park Neighbourhood Food Network. The Riley Park Community Garden Seed Library is stored at the Riley Park Fieldhouse. Available during garden work parties and upon request.
Marpole Oakridge Neighbourhood Food Network
Seed library is available at Village Vancouver’s workshops and events in Marpole Oakridge at Marpole Oakridge Community Centre (990 W. 59th Ave) and elsewhere.
Strathcona Seed Libraries
– At West End Neighbourhood Food Network potlucks, workshops, and other activities at West End Community Centre (870 Denman St.) and elsewhere
– Available at some urban farming and food-related events at Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton St)
West Point Grey Village
Available at many of Village Vancouver’s events and workshops at West Point Grey Community Centre (4397 W. 2nd Ave.), Aberthau Garden, and EcoGarden activities.
Village Vancouver’s roving seed library
Village Vancouver also make their roving seed libraries accessible at their workshops in
– Champlain Heights (at Champlain Heights Community Centre, 3350 Maquinna Dr.),
– Hastings-Sunrise (Hastings Community Centre, 3096 E Hastings St and Thunderbird Community Centre, 2311 Cassiar St)
– South Vancouver (Sunset Community Centre, 6810 Main St and Riverlands Community Garden, 2750 E Kent Ave),
– Douglas Park (Douglas Park Community Centre, 801 W. 22nd Ave),
– community fairs and festivals around town
For other seed libraries in the Lower Mainland
Visit the Seed Libraries in B.C. database run by Borrow Save Share, a Lifecycles project acting to support and network seed libraries and other seed initiatives across B.C. They also offer resources to start up your own seed library and find other local growers.
More Resources on Seed Saving Initiatives and Tips
– BC Seeds (a program of FarmFolk CityFolk) has worked closely with B.C. vegetable seed growers and seed companies for over a decade. They offer resources about seed producers, B.C. eco seeds co-op, and other B.C. seed libraries.
– This printable guide to Basic Seed Saving from Seeds of Diversity shares the basics of how to save your own seeds.
– A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty is a zine from The Seed Ambassadors Project on why to save seeds and instructions on how to save both easy and more challenging seeds.
– These Seed Resources for Educators developed by USC Canada include free lesson plans and activities for parents and educators to share the importance of biodiversity, seed saving, and growing food with children.