Seeding Ideas: Seed library takes root at the Agricultural Campus

Stephanie Rogers - Wed Mar 12 00:00:00 ADT 2014

Tyler MacDonald and Joan Cole planting bulbs in the Jean Watson Bulb Garden. (Danny Abriel photo)

What do seeds and books have in common?  A library, of course!

Seeding Ideas, a seed lending library, has taken root on the Agricultural Campus at the MacRae Library and will officially launch Monday, March 17.  

“I grew up gardening,” explains Jolene Reid, the seed library’s coordinator. “My parents were back-to-nature sort of folks. We grew up with a strong value for soil and seeds…. this seed library is a great way to honour the memory of my dad in my day-to-day life.”

A first in Canada


A seed library is based on the premise of providing access to a collection of non-hybrid, non-GMO seeds that can be “borrowed” by members of the community. Members grow the seeds and enjoy their harvest while letting a few plants return to seed. These new seeds are then returned to the library for the next growing season’s collection.

“Libraries are all about providing access,” says Reid. “With our seed lending library, we are providing the community with a different kind of access: access to food security, access to fresh and healthy food, access to diverse varieties... it’s all about engaging the community in an innovative way through our library.”



While there are more than 150 of them across North America, Seeding Ideas is the first university-funded seed lending library in Canada. The original collection of seeds for the library has been purchased from Annapolis Seeds in Middleton, Hope Seeds in Granville Ferry and Incredible Seeds in Lawrencetown, providing borrowers with access to over 80 varieties of edibles and ornamentals.  

“We’re excited to have this opportunity to bring together the expertise from the Faculty of Agriculture with our campus and local community in such a fun and unique way,” adds Elaine MacInnis, head librarian at the MacRae Library. The library donated the initial funds for the seeds to begin the collection.

Taking under advisement


Seeding Ideas will be supported by an advisory group including teaching instructors and faculty members from the Agricultural Campus as well as community members and students.

The group includes faculty members Jeff Morton - AC grounds co-manager, Cory Roberts - waste management technician, Nancy McLean, Norman Goodyear and Tri Nguyen-Quang; community members Leslie Brann, Lyn McBryan, Dick Cotterill; alumnus Ronak Desai; students William Munroe and Jessica Compagnon; and library staff members Verna Mingo, Elaine MacInnis and Jolene Reid (who chairs the group).

The group will help Seeding Ideas create a sustainable variety of seeds and facilitate workshops throughout the growing season as well as mentorship opportunities.  

“Gardeners are very good storytellers,” adds Reid. “We want to capture the stories behind the seeds and track their history as well.” He notes, as an example, that one of the seeds in the collection is a 1000-year-old ornamental tobacco seed.

The collection will serve the community from early February until late June for borrowing, and then become active again during the autumn harvest for seed solicitation. For more information please contact seed.library@dal.ca or like Seeding Ideas on Facebook.

Alll are welcome at the official launch of Seeding Ideas this Monday, March 17 at 2 p.m. in the MacRae Library.


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