The Seed Lending Library is a project created in collaboration with the Garden Club of Norfolk. Families are able to choose from a variety of seeds to check out, take home, grow, and perhaps harvest some seeds at the end of the growing season to return. 

Please Note: You must be a SAILS card holder in order to check out seeds. 

What is a seed library?

Community members may checkout seeds for free from the Norfolk Public Library.  The idea is that you plant the seeds, let some plants “go to seed”, then return some of these next generation seeds for others to borrow. 

This program is intended to get more people interested in gardening, develop a network of seed savers, and encourage preservation of heirloom seeds and gene integrity.

Beginner Gardeners: Don’t worry about saving seeds to start!  We won’t fine you if you don’t return seeds. Focus first on having fun and learning how to garden!



  • No limit for the 2022 growing season, except as marked. 
  • Choose your seeds and fill out the seed form at the library (paper forms are available on top of the seed library) then see a circulation staff member to finish checking them out. 


Why save seeds?

All seeds have a story.  Once a plant variety is gone, it’s gone forever. When you grow, save, and share your own seeds, you promote seed sovereignty by: 

– Increasing the genetic diversity of your own seed stock 

– Developing seeds that are more resilient and better adapted to our particular climate and soil 

– Perpetuating the knowledge and culture of seed saving

– Providing seeds to others in our community and building a better world


How do you harvest seeds?

First you will need to identify if your plant is an annual, biennial, or perennial.  Not all plants flower, set seed, and die in a single growing season.  Once you have harvested the seeds, there are three basic methods of saving seeds:

Dry—Saving seeds from plants like peas and beans is the easiest.  You simply open the dry pea or bean pod and scoop out the seeds.  Seeds from flowering stalks are also easy to save.

Wet— With seeds that are wet (cucumbers, melons, peppers, and   squashes), you can scoop out the seeds and rinse them under running water until they are clean.  Dry them on a paper towel, a paper plate, or a coffee filter.

Fermentation— Removes the germination-inhibiting substance on the seed coat.  During  fermentation, bad seeds generally float to the surface of the water, good, viable seeds sink to the bottom.  Example:  when  saving tomato seeds, you will need to use the fermentation process.


Looking for more information?

The Seed Garden: The Art and Practice of Seed Saving, by Lee Buttala and Shanyn Siegel, Seed Savers Exchange, 2015.  

Seed to Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth, Seed Savers Exchange, 2002. 

Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, by Carol Deppe, Chelsea Green, 2000. 

The Organic Seed Grower: A Farmer’s Guide to Vegetable Seed Production, by John Navazio, Chelsea Green, 2012. 

Organic Seed Production and Saving: The Wisdom of Plant Heritage, by Brian Connolly, Chelsea Green, 2011. 

Garden Seed Inventory, Seed Savers Exchange, 2005. 

The New Seed Starters’ Handbook, by Nancy Bubel, Rodale Books, 1988.


Come into the library whenever we are open to browse the seeds. The Seed Library holds a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, native plants, and flowers. 

Looking for something? Search below.