Kwantlen Seed Library ready for bumper crop of gardeners

Wed, Apr 5, 2023

Spring has sprung and Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) is helping plant seeds of change – in the library.

The Kwantlen Seed Library, located inside KPU Langley’s campus library, is assisting in the planting prosperity of green thumbs across the region with its shareable collection of locally-grown seeds, ahead of Earth Day April 22.

The concept is simple: “borrow” seeds of some of your favourite vegetables, and return an equivalent amount of seeds after harvest.

“University libraries are more than books,” says KPU librarian Celia Brinkerhoff, who established the seed library with KPU horticulture students and instructors 10 years ago. “Looking for opportunities to support student engagement and wellness is something library folks are committed to.”

Since taking root in 2013, the seed library has blossomed into a unique library feature used by students, employees and community borrowers. All that's needed is a KPU library card, or a community borrower card for those outside the university. Community borrower cards are available at the service desk of any campus library.

Kwantlen Seed Library

“It’s definitely an attraction for those entering Langley campus library. Even those who don’t take seeds do borrow the gardening and seed saving books on display,” says Brinkerhoff. “We know that food insecurity among post-secondary students is a serious issue, and the seed library might be one very small way in which we can help students ease their grocery bills.”

The Kwantlen Seed Library aims to promote food security through the preservation and exchange of locally grown and harvested seeds. Keeping heirloom and open-pollinated varieties alive promotes a more sustainable and biologically diverse food system, and encourages people to think about how our food system is connected to climate change.

In the Kwantlen Seed Library drawers are numerous varieties of vegetables – from kale and cabbage to peas and peppers – along with herbs and some flowers for pollinators, such as marigolds and sunflowers. New this season is a hefty seed donation from West Coast Seeds, packaged by KPU horticulture students.

To borrow seeds, library visitors make selections, complete a borrowing sheet and proceed to the check-out desk. Seeds are arranged from easy to difficult – referring to the difficulty of saving seeds that will be true to type. At the end of the season, borrowers are asked to return with seeds they’ve collected. The library accepts donations of all open-pollinated seed varieties.

“For the home grower, seed saving doesn’t have to be daunting. Selecting open-pollinated, heirloom varieties of vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, peas and beans is a good place to start,” says Brinkerhoff. “All it takes is access to a few containers, a small space, a balcony.”