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Seed libraries

North Ayrshire Council’s Food Growing Strategy has established seed libraries in a bid to tackle food security by increasing local food production and thereby, reducing food miles. Furthermore, it will allow for varieties to adapt to the Ayrshire climate as we see climate conditions change in the future, making for more resilient local produce.

What is a seed library?

A seed library is a store of seed held with the intent of replacing the ‘borrowed’ seed from your own produce which you have let ‘go to seed’. Ideally, you would return the same number of seeds as you borrowed (or more if possible) to replenish the seed library for the following growing season. You get to keep all the vegetables from any of the things you grow.

Vegetables and herbs will be the initial focus of library, with an emphasis on plants which grow well in Ayrshire and will include some heritage varieties. If you are growing something that is not in the seed library, feel free to drop in some seeds!

Do you need to be a library member to use a seed library?

No, and you do not need to make a seed deposit to borrow from us. However, to make the seed library sustainable, we do ask borrowers to try and deposit some seed at the end of the growing season.

We have a collection of books with information about growing, sowing and saving seeds that are available to borrow if you are a library member. It is free to join, just ask the branch staff for more information.

How can I get involved?

A seed library is the product of community, for the community. Seed can be collected from any of the following libraries:

These can be planted in your garden, window box, flowerpot, allotment, or old wellington boots.

All that you need to do is to allow some of your produce to ‘go to seed’. Once the seed is ripened, bring them back to one of the seed libraries where they can be recorded as a ‘deposit’ and stored for the following growing season.

Making a Deposit

When you bring your seed to the library to deposit you will find envelopes and labels there for you to use.

The seeds need to be completely dried out, so there is no danger of mould growing in the seed library and quarantined in a container for at least 3 weeks, so we don’t get any surprises a few weeks after your deposit!

The label will ask you a number of questions, such as:

  1. Type and variety of seed
  2. What town it was grown in
  3. Who saved it and in what year
  4. What month(s) to sow the seed
  5. What month(s) to save the seed
  6. Pollination type
  7. Any other notes such as: was the seed grown organically?