Seed Libraries, Seed Swaps & Seed Saving

My friend Gail was just showing me her catalog from The Hudson Valley Seed Library. She purchased several packets of seeds for her gorgeous garden. I wish I had taken a picture of these packets, because they were truly beautiful. You see, this company recruits local artists to create beautiful art packs for some of their seeds. And did you know that Hudson Valley Seed Library, started out as a one of the country’s first seed libraries?

Seed Libraries, Seed Swaps & Seed Saving

Seeds saved in glassine bag

Seed Libraries

If you haven’t heard of a seed library, then let me explain. Seed libraries are typically actual libraries where in addition to books, you can also check out seeds. The idea is to let people take the seeds home and plant them for free, with the promise that they will return the seeds from their best crops. Cool idea, huh? This process gets the community involved in gardening, and helps everyone receive some of the best seeds possible.

By Karen and Brad Emerson (our seed library) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Karen and Brad Emerson (our seed library) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

These seed libraries are popping up all over the country.

Here are a couple of sites with lists and maps to help you find one near you.

Seed Librarian
Sister Libraries

If you can’t find a seed library nearby you could certainly start your own. 

The Seed Library Social Network is full of information on how to start your own seed library.

Seed Swap

By ryan griffis from Urbana, USA (Seed Swap 2009 Uploaded by mangostar) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Seed swaps

Don’t want to go to the trouble of starting a seed library? How about a seed swap? I love to invite my girlfriends over in the spring for a garden party where we swap perennials that we are dividing for the new season. You can do this with a seed swap.

Many people also hold community seed swaps, where people gather together to swap their own seed collections with other like-minded gardeners.

Lovely Greens – 12 Tips on how to organize a Seed Swap
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – How to Host a Seed Swap

Online Memberships

Even if you don’t have a seed library in your area, and you don’t want to start one or participate in a local swap, you can always participate with thousands of others online. For example, you can become a member of The Iowa Seed Savers Exchange. This non-profit organization boosts a collection of more than 20,000 seeds varieties, and some even include trees. Membership starts at $25 a year which will give you discounts on their store, admission to many botanical gardens, a quarterly magazine, and access to request specific homegrown seeds.


Saving Your Own Seeds

Maybe you are interested in getting involved, but have never actually saved your own seeds.  Here are a few great articles from some of my gardening friends to help you out.

Garden Up Green – How to Save Cosmos Seeds
Empress of Dirt – How To Save Heirloom Tomato Seeds
Flower Patch Farmhouse – Seed Saving
Garden Therapy  – Seed Saving Basics
Grow a Good Life – How to Save Bean Seeds to Plant Next Year

Seed libraries, seed swaps and saving your own seeds to share with others, is a fun and affordable part of gardening.

More importantly you will be encouraging others to grow their own plants, and helping to preserve heirloom varieties that might otherwise be lost forever.


Learn about seed libraries, seed swaps and how to save your own seeds. These are great ways to share your love of gardening and grow your own select seeds.

About Patti Estep

Patti is the creator of Hearth and Vine, a home and garden blog filled with projects to inspire your creative side. She loves crafting, gardening, decorating and entertaining at her home in Pennsylvania. When she is not working on a project at home or searching for treasures at nurseries and thrift stores with her girlfriends, you’ll probably find her with family and friends, at a restaurant, or home party enjoying new and different food adventures.

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  1. What a fun, informative post – I am very intrigued. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  2. Seed libraries!?!?! This is so awesome! <3 I wonder if there's one somewhat close to me! I don't really have any place to grow things right now though (I've been growing green onions in a couple mason jars with water though! 😛 ) Thanks for those sites + resources! <3

    • Hi Farrah,
      Yes, seed libraries are popping up everywhere. If you don’t find anything near you physically you can swap online. I’d even try calling a couple of local libraries and asking them. You never know.
      Thanks for stopping by,

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