Free seed library starting in Amherst for organic veggies, herbs, flowers

Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko

by Connie Oswald Stofko

Brenda Snyder was looking for a seed bank–a place where seeds are collected and shared–but she couldn’t find one in Western New York.

“There were no seed banks I could even drive to,” Snyder said. “I thought, ‘How is that even possible?’ I decided somebody just needed to take the bull by the horns and get it rolling.”

Working with other volunteers, she is setting up the WNY Seed Library, a free seed library for anyone who wants to grow heirloom organic veggies, herbs or flowers.

It will be housed in the Audubon Branch Library, 350 John James Audubon Pkwy., Amherst.

The aim is to have it open and working by Jan. 1, 2019, so that by spring people can register to take seeds out. It is hoped that after growing plants from the seeds, gardeners who know how to save seeds will donate some seeds from their crops back to the seed library.

Food independence and food security are Snyder’s ultimate goals. People shouldn’t have to go without food because they can’t afford it. By making free seeds available, she wants to enable people grow their own food.

The WNY Seed Library is looking for donations of seeds. The plants should be:

  • Non-GMO (non-genetically modified organism)
  • Heirloom (open-pollinated plants that pass on similar characteristics and traits from the parent plant to the child plant)

The seeds should be in the original packet or seeds that you gathered. Donors will fill out a form describing their seeds.

You can learn more about saving seeds at upcoming talks by Snyder.

The first will be “Seed Saving in Buffalo: An Introduction to the WNY Seed Library” at 7 p.m.Tuesday, Sept. 18 at the Audubon Branch Library, 350 John James Audubon Pkwy., Amherst. This is part of the Audubon Library’s Holistic Lecture Series. Seed-saving techniques will be demonstrated and past successes and failures will be discussed. You will learn the differences among heirloom, hybrid and GMO seeds as well as their benefits and drawbacks.Seeds will be shared at the event; you can take your own seeds to donate to the new seed library. Please register in advance at (716) 689-4922 or in person at the library.

Snyder will also offer more information at World on Your Plate to be held Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5 and 6 at Daemen College, 4380 Main St., Amherst.

After seeds are collected, they will need to be sorted, then tested for germination.

“We want to make sure they’re viable,” Snyder said. “We want some quality control so new gardeners won’t be disappointed.”

The people organizing the new seed library are thinking of holding a fundraiser. While seeds will be donated, there are costs associated with materials such as envelopes, Snyder said.

Once the seed library is up and running, she hopes it can become a hub with satellite locations. Maybe there could even be interlibrary loans of seeds. For now, they are taking baby steps, Snyder said.

Get updates about the new seed library or get involved at WNY Seed Library.

Snyder is the author of the e-book Grow It, Save It, Use It and started the WNY Gardening Meetup Group. Others involved include Rich Peters, librarian at the Audubon Branch, who among other things, found an old card catalog in which to store the seeds; Carol Poliner, who is involved with lectures about food and nutrition through the Weston A. Price Foundation; Paul Michalec, chairman of the Town of Evans Conservation Advisory Commission and a member of a new Native Plants Group that has been formed; Maggie Patz, a gardener who is passionate and organized, and Shawn Wornica, Snyder’s husband.

4 Comments on “Free seed library starting in Amherst for organic veggies, herbs, flowers

  1. Connie, the SOLE Seeds of Living Education and the ARTseeds program of the University Heights Arts Assn. come to mind. Three or four of these groups including those above began forming a “seed alliance” in the last two weeks that highlights the uniqueness of each program and how they hope to benefit one another. Collectively, we will send you information about that.

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