Get free seeds at downtown library, Hamburg branch

by Connie Oswald Stofko

You can get free seeds at libraries in Erie County: Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, and the Hamburg Public Library, 102 Buffalo St., Hamburg. These are in addition to the WNY Seed Library at the Audubon Branch Library, which we talked about previously.

Seed Share at Hamburg Library
A cheery stand at the Hamburg Public Library offers free seeds through its Seed Share program. Photo courtesy Hamburg Public Library

The organizers at all these seed libraries hope that after you have borrowed seeds, you will save some seeds from the plants you grew and take them back to the seed library to share with others. They’re always accepting donations of seeds, even seeds you may have bought from a seed company.

“Most seeds are good for four or five years,” said Amanda Brown, technology clerk, who is involved with the seed library at the Central Library.

Tip: There is still time to plant some cool weather vegetables for harvest this year.

Central Library

The seed library is located in the Launch Pad by Lafayette Park. The seeds are stored in a card catalog. (A card catalog was how people used to look up books before we had computers.)

You can take four packs of seeds at one time.

They have mostly vegetable seeds, with quite a few flower seeds and some herb seeds. There’s a good variety of native seeds too, saved by Master Gardener Beaufort Wilbern from flowers on the outside Reading Ramp. Those seeds include penstemon or beardtongue, foxglove, hardy hibiscus, Culver’s root and New York ironweed.

In the future, they’d like to make a list of seeds available online, Brown said. And someday they’d love to have an interlibrary loan so you could pick up seeds at any branch.

“Our ultimate goal is to make fresh fruits and vegetables accessible in this food desert,” she said. “Downtown and a lot of the communities we service don’t have access to things like that.”

The seed library has a partnership with Grassroots Gardens, which provided volunteers and donated seed, but they’re always looking for more volunteers. A lot of seeds need to be sorted into envelopes. In autumn, seeds that gardeners share from their own plants have to be separated from the flower or pod before putting them into envelopes.

To volunteer or to get on a list for notices about upcoming events, leave your email address or phone number with a staff member in the Launch Pad, or email and put “Seed Library” in the subject line.

Hamburg Public Library

Seed Share at Hamburg Public Library
Printed materials are available along with seeds at Hamburg Public Library. Photo courtesy Hamburg Public Library

You may have seen the free libraries in people’s front yards that house books to borrow. You’ll see a similar stand at the Hamburg Public Library, but it houses seeds.

The Seed Share was located outside so people could access the seeds even when the library is closed, said Ashley Cassidy, librarian. An extra inventory of seeds is kept inside to refill the outside stand as needed.

“It’s been so incredibly popular,” Cassidy said.

To get the seed library started, seeds were donated by S.O.L.E. Seeds of Living Education, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company and Seed Savers Exchange. The library staff also got help from Tricia Miller; Jim Gang, teacher at Hamburg High School who created the stands, and Sean McSkimming.

In addition to the seeds, sheets of helpful information are available in the stand.

If you have seeds to donate, take them to the desk inside the library.

To find out more about the Hamburg Library Seed Share, go to their website. Directly under the photo of their building, click on What’s Happening. Scroll through that and you’ll find a section on the Seed Share.

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