SERVICES › HEIRLOOM SEED LIBRARY
February 1-November 1
Choose from a variety of vegetable, herb and flower and native heirloom seeds to borrow with your Springfield-Greene County Library card. Plant them at home or in your community garden, enjoy the harvest, save the seeds and return them to the seed library to share with others.
Seed libraries are available at the Library Center, Library Station, Midtown Carnegie Branch Library, Mobile Library, Republic Branch Library, and Schweitzer Brentwood Branch Library.
Welcome to the world of sharing and saving seeds with the Library!
What is a seed library?
A seed library is a collection of seeds that you can borrow to plant and grow your own food, herbs and flowers at home. After your plants mature and "go to seed," you save the seeds and return them to the library so they can be shared with others.
What kind of seeds are available?
These are "open-pollinated," heirloom seeds. They have been pollinated by natural means such as insects, birds or wind; not manipulated to become hybrid varieties. And, like your family heirlooms, they have been saved after the harvest and passed along to other gardeners. We also include wild native seeds, which support our native pollinators and make our yards more sustainable. Visit the SEED CATALOG to see all the varieties available in the Heirloom Seed Library.
Why is seed saving important?
Today’s gardeners are returning to the seed-saving tradition, when harvesting and protecting the previous year’s seeds was essential to providing the next crop. Seed saving creates a seed stock well-suited to the Ozarks climate, the plants are more pest-resistant, and growers save money on their seeds and plants. Seed saving helps create a culture of sharing and community, too!
How do I check out seeds?
Use your library card to check out up to four packets of seeds just as you check out books and other materials. Plant your seeds and enjoy your harvest. When the season ends and the plants "go to seed," save some for yourself and return the rest for the Heirloom Seed Library collection.
Do I have to return seeds?
We encourage donations back to the Heirloom Seed Library, but you are under no obligation to save and return seeds. We want you to learn the basics of gardening and seed saving, first.
What’s the difference between beginner and advanced seed-saving?
Some seed varieties are easier to save than others. Please try to match the seed-saving difficulty with your gardening skills and time.
Beginner: These easy varieties are great for beginning seed savers. They produce seed the same season as planted and are mostly self-pollinating. Seeds include beans, lettuce, peas, pepper, tomato and native plants.
Intermediate: These varieties produce seed the season they are planted but require separation to keep unwanted cross-pollination from taking place. These include corn, cucumber, melons, radish, spinach and squash/pumpkin.
Advanced: These are better suited for more expert seed savers. They may or may not produce seed the season they are planted, and require special precautions such as hand pollination and tenting to ensure purity. Varieties include beets, carrot, dill, mustard greens, onion and sunflowers.
How do I share my seeds?
We will provide seed donation envelopes and labels for the seeds you save from your harvest so you can drop them off at the Heirloom Seed Library. Here are harvesting and seed saving instructions for the varieties available in the Heirloom Seed Library. If you already save seeds, consider contributing them to the seed library.
Donating seeds or funds to the Library
We invite you to donate these recommended seeds (pdf) to the Heirloom Seed Library.
We will happily accept any seeds not included on this list and share them at upcoming seed swap events!
Make an online monetary donation to the Library Foundation's Heirloom Seed Library Fund, or contact The Library Foundation at 417-616-0586 or via email at email@example.com.
Need help with your garden or seed saving? Here are some resources:
See how to plant all the seeds in the Heirloom Seed Library by visiting the SEED CATALOG.
See Southern Exposure Seed Exchange's GUIDE (pdf) to when and how to harvest seeds.
- Library assistance: Contact GinaMarie at 417-616-0508 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Botanical Center
- Grow Native
- Missouri Department of Conservation - Native Plants for Your Landscape
- Master Gardeners
- Share the Seed
- Springfield Community Gardens
- University of Missouri Extension
- Watershed Committee of the Ozarks
- Seed Savers
- International Seed Saving Institute
- YouTube is a great resource with tons of videos for specific varieties of seeds.
- The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds: 322 Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, Fruits, Trees, and Shrubs by Robert Gough
- The Manual of Seed Saving: Harvesting, Storing, and Sowing Techniques for Vegetables, Herbs, and Fruits by Andrea Heistinger
- The Midwest Native Plant Primer, by Alan Branhagen
- Saving Our Seeds; The Practice and Philosophy by Bevin Cohen
- Saving Vegetable Seeds: Harvest, Clean, Store, and Plant Seeds from your Garden by Fern Marshall Bradley
- The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving by Micaela Colley
- Tried & True Missouri Native Plants for your Yard by Missouri Department of Conservation, edited by Barbara Fairchild
The seeds in the Heirloom Seed Library were generously funded by Farmers Gastropub; other seeds and related programs were funded or donated by Central High School Botanical Society, Ozarks Food Harvest, Springfield Community Gardens' Heirloom Seed Garden, Watershed Committee of the Ozarks' Watershed Natives and Wal-Mart.
This project is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provision of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the Missouri State Library, a division of the Office of the Secretary of State.