Register for a library card and access our physical and digital collections today!

Seed library

Welcome to our seed library page. This is a joint project between the Library and the Edible Garden Project, located at North Shore Neighbourhood House.

What is a seed library?

Our seed club lends seeds to the public, free of charge, with an aim to create greener spaces, encourage people to grow their own food, and facilitate community learning. We have partnered with the Edible Garden Project to put together an easy-to-follow system for borrowing, planting, and returning seeds.

Why save seeds?

If we look back about 100 years, our food crops contained more than 1,500 plant types. Today there are fewer than 50, the bulk of which are corn, soybeans, wheat and rice. The commercial seeds we see today are created for shelf-life and appearance, rather than taste. Most of these seeds are hybrid varieties that are made by artificially crossing two very different plants. You can be part of a community effort to conserve precious seed varieties by signing them out, growing, harvesting, and passing them on to other gardeners.

How to borrow seeds

Join our seed club by filling out a membership registration form at the information desk on the third floor. Each time you want to borrow a seed packet, please complete a “member seed record” in the seed club binder, located at the same desk. We also loan out seeding squares.

Saving seeds

At harvest time, please take extra steps to save seeds for others. The more seeds we save, the more members of our community can experience the joy of growing their own food from local seeds.

Processing dry seeds

Most plants fall into this category: plants like lettuce, cabbage, onion, and carrot. Simply allow the seed to partially dry in its capsules, or seed heads, while still attached to the parent plant. The seed must be collected and placed in a bucket or paper sack before the capsules open or the seed heads shatter. After the seed is fully dry, separate it from the pods and stalks, and store in an airtight container such as a glass jar.

Processing wet seeds

This method works for plants such as melons, squash, peppers, eggplant, and pumpkins. Scoop the seeds out of the fully ripe fruit, rinse to separate them from the pulp, then spread the seeds on a tray or screen. Allow them to dry for several weeks before packaging.

Fermentation of seeds

This method works for seeds that have a gel sac surrounding them, such as cucumber and tomato. Squeeze the seeds into a jar, add a little water, and leave the jar at room temperature for a week or so. During this time, the yeast will break down the gel sacs, and a layer of mold will develop on top of the water. The good seeds will sink to the bottom of the jar, and can then be collected and dried as in the wet-seed processing method.

Returning seeds

If you have seeds to share with us at harvest time, please bring them back in an envelope, or clear plastic bag marked with as much information as you can provide: type of seed, date, etc. Please return the seeds to the Welcome Desk on the first floor of the library.


A big Thank-you to our donors:

  • Edible Garden Project – they provide the seeds and knowledge for our collection
  • West Coast Seeds – For the vegetable and flower planting charts as well as some seeds 
  • Dorothy Waters, library board trustee for the donation of two seeding squares available for borrowing
  • Contour Creations for the donation of seeding squares also available for borrowing.
  • Lions Gate Hospital for donating our seed library cabinet.
Share |