Seed Library

Since the Phoenix library system started its Seed Library program in 2014, patrons have checked out a collective 30,000 seeds.

During the past few decades, libraries across the nation have greatly expanded their collections beyond books, now offering just about everything in printed form, plus DVDs, CDs and even free internet access. 

So evolved, the Phoenix area libraries now offer something you don’t even have to return.

Since the Phoenix Library system’s Seed Library was founded at the Harmon branch in 2014 by librarian Stephanie Martinez, patrons have really embraced the program. In 2018 alone, they checked out 30,000 seeds to plant and harvest in their home gardens. 

Phoenix Library Spokeswoman Lee Franklin says the Seed Library is all about bringing new experiences and life skills to patrons. 

“The Seed Library has so many fun things associated with it. There are so many off- shoots that come from this; research on the internet on how to grow, learning about osmosis and photosynthesis,” Franklin said. 

The Seed Library can also lead to healthier choices at meals, family activities and letting kids get their hands dirty.  

“The learning opportunities are endless,” Franklin said.  

Friends of the Phoenix Public Library, a nonprofit founded in 1977, helps make the Seed Library a reality across the Valley. The group helps purchase seeds from a Tucson company called Native Seed Search.

“‘Friends’ is always right there championing any number of the programs the library offers. Without their financial support, none of this would be possible,” Franklin said.  

The Seed Library is intended to help anyone who is ready to grow their own produce. Items offered include beets, squash, beans, herbs, cabbage and other plants that thrive in desert climate.

Patrons from all branches, including Saguaro, can “check out” three packets at a time, although they aren’t required to bring the seeds back. After three weeks, they can return and check out another three packets.

“I have heard stories of people that started with one or two and now are cultivating and harvesting a robust garden that is putting food on their table,” Franklin said. “All made possible because of the knowledge they gained at their local library.”

Free workshops are held at the Seed Libraries to teach skills and techniques needed to produce a bountiful harvest. Each library branch offers its own version of the classes, forming unique relationships with its local community. 

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