Akron’s Seed Sharing Library

The Snarky Gardener spent an evening with the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Seed Sharing Library


On a random visit to the the Akron-Summit County Public Library, I discovered their seed library in the Science and Technology Division at their Main Branch in downtown Akron. A seed library is a collection of packaged seeds that can be “checked out” by community members.  Up to six packets of seeds a month may be checked out. Borrowers are encouraged to return seed saved out of their gardens at the end of the season but it’s not required.  Some plants that are straight forward to save seeds from, like tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beans, and peas, are marked as “easy to save”.

With my Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns involvement, I have done research on seed libraries with thoughts of possibly starting one here in Kent. Currently there are efforts by state departments of agriculture to close down such libraries as they violate laws that were written for large scale seed producers.  The issue seems to be not the lending but the receiving of seeds back.  The concern is that the seeds of noxious or poisonous plants will be slipped into the system by unscrupulous people and that all seeds need to be professionally tested.  At this writing, there have been cases in at least 3 states – Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Maryland. In the Pennsylvania case, the library compromised with the Department of Agriculture by agreeing to host several seed swaps a year instead.


A few weeks after my initial visit, I returned to the Seed Sharing Library, this time as a volunteer helping to split out donated seed into smaller packets. Most commercial packets have many seasons of seeds and can be divided into 4 or 5 packets without issue. Six of us spent 3 hours splitting out just a third of the donated and purchased seed. It became very tedious by the time we finished up. Nonetheless, if they have another packing event, I’ll be there with some of my Kent Food Not Lawns members. I’ll also be donating some of my own saved seed, including turnips, beans, tomatoes, and peppers.


To find out more about the Seed Sharing Library please visit http://www.akronlibrary.org/locations/main-library/science-technology-division/seed-sharing

6 thoughts on “Akron’s Seed Sharing Library”

  1. “The concern is that the seeds of noxious or poisonous plants will be slipped into the system by unscrupulous people and that all seeds need to be professionally tested.” What a bunch of bull! No, wait. Actual bull at least would be useful as fertilizer.

    What a ridiculous ploy by industry to quash alternatives to homogenized agriculture.

    Besides, don’t they think unscrupulous people have better things to do with their time — say, a crime that actually brings in cash?

    1. Fortunately Ohio has not targeted our seed libraries yet. It’s pretty lame how government sees us as a threat. I figure I’ll support our local seed library while Kent Food Not Lawns also holds an annual seed swap. During our seed packaging efforts, we joked about us being subversive. We are such rebels.

    1. I know. I was surprised as anyone that we had one. The best part is the librarians are very dedicated to it.

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