We've written about tool libraries before; seed libraries are another brilliant addition to public libraries (which are obviously already brilliant in themselves). Residents in Richmond, California can go to the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library—located inside the main public library—and "check out" free seeds. When the plants grow and the season ends, new seeds are returned back to the library. Why is seed saving important? Corporations have bought up the majority of the smaller seed companies, and started replacing strains of plants with their own hybrids (which don't produce seeds) and patented varieties (when the seed is patented, you can't legally collect and use it). Seed saving helps protect natural and carefully cultivated varieties for the future.
The Seed Lending Library include ornamental plants (non-edible flowers, California native plants, gourds, etc.), culinary and medicinal herbs, and vegetables. Since the goal of the library is to help the community have easy access to growing their own food, the "edible" cabinet is the largest. All of the seeds are also organized by the level of difficulty of saving the seeds. Richmond Grows provides resources on how to save seeds, and gardening in general. We love this idea, and would love to see it in more libraries! (There are other good seed-sharing networks out there too, like Seed Savers Exchange).
(Image: Veronica Moscoso)