Duluth Seed Library

Duluth Seed Library

Duluth Seed LibraryThe Duluth Seed Library is open to everyone in the community at no charge. We provide, in addition to seeds, education and resources about growing and saving seeds and organic gardening. It is our hope that seed library patrons will return some seeds from their harvest to make the library self-sustaining. 

How to Use the Seed Library


You may borrow up to 4 packets of seed each year. Acceptable quantities to borrow from bulk seed containers are listed on the container.

Fill in a membership form and note in the “borrowing seed” column which varieties you have selected and the date. Place it in the member form basket.


The Seed Library is more than a source of free seeds! The purpose of the seed library is to build up a collection of locally grown seed adapted to life in the Northland and with a story to tell about it. To that end, if you borrow seeds it is expected that you will be returning seeds. If you are unable to harvest seeds, please let us know why. This will help us better understand the needs for making the seed library successful. (No fines, we promise!)

Fill in a membership form and note in the “returning/donating seed” column which varieties you have returned and the date. Place it in the member form basket and put the seeds in the returned seeds basket.

Return good seeds: Only return seeds from plants that you know how to save properly. They should be dry and reasonably clean with as much chaff removed as possible. Please do not return old seeds, seeds from hybrids, or seeds which you are uncertain of the variety.

Create your seed packets: Put each variety of seed you return in one of the envelopes provided at the Seed Library and fill in the label on each envelope.

Label thoughtfully: Write as much information on the packet as possible. Remember that people only have what you have written on the package to decide if it is a plant that they would like to grow. More info is better. If you wish to include any additional notes for future growers, please write them on an index card and attach it to the seed envelope with a rubber band or paper clip.

Don’t misplace them: Place your seeds in the “Returned Seeds” basket. Please do not file them in the cabinet.

Share the abundance: Returning multiple packets of the same seed is great. If you have lots of seeds, you may return them in a jar or other containers. Feel free to be creative, and label them as you would a packet. Other members may fill their own packets from your bulk container.

Resources & Information


Frequently Asked Questions

How does the Seed Library operate?

The Duluth Seed Library operates out of the top floor of the downtown Duluth Public Library. The library is self-serve, and members can visit the library to sign up and borrow/return seeds anytime the downtown library is open. Seeds are in a designated cabinet, along with educational handouts. 

You do not have to have a Duluth Public Library card to use the Seed Library.

As a seed library member, you may borrow up to four packets containing seeds of heirloom, open-pollinated seeds per year.

We hope that you will grow the seeds in your gardens, and at the end of the growing season save a portion of seed from your harvest to return back to the Seed Library. You may also donate seeds you saved or commercially grown seeds from other open-pollinated/non-hybrid plant varieties.

No fine or penalty will result from not returning seeds (although we hope that you do!). After the seeds are returned, they will be collected and inventoried by Duluth Public Library staff and volunteers.

While this policy may lead to a marginal annual loss of seeds each year, the focus of the Seed Library is not to maintain a steady seed stock, but rather to encourage gardening and the consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. Realize that the returned seeds have been grown by amateurs and that there is no guarantee of 100% germination or of absolute varietal purity. The seed has been produced in good faith and spirit by friends and neighbors interested in connecting their community to food and seeds.

Who are the partners behind the Seed Library?

The Duluth Seed Library was conceived by the Duluth Public Library and Institute for a Sustainable Future and includes organizational and volunteer support from the Duluth Community Garden Program, the St. Louis County Master Gardeners and other volunteer community members. The Seed Library received a grant for the 2014/2015 growing season from the University of Minnesota's Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.

What seeds are available?

During its first growing season in 2014, the Seed Library offered commercially grown seed for varieties of tomatoes, peppers, beans (the 2014 Duluth One Community, One Vegetable of the year), and peas. These four initial seeds types were chosen based on their ease of seed saving for beginners. Since then, other varieties of heirloom, open-pollinated seed have continued to be offered.  However, the Seed Library will be sustained only if members return saved seed and/or donate commercially grown seed from open-pollinated/non-hybrid plant varieties.