Seed Library

Dane County Libraries: Growing more than readers

For thousands of years people have cultivated gardens enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Until recent times saving the previous year’s seeds to plant the next crop was an essential part of the process. Today many people are enjoying the return of the seed saving tradition.

Seed saving is important because you:

  • Develop seeds that become acclimated to our local climate
  • Grow plants that are more pest resistant
  • Save money on seeds and plants
  • Know where your food is coming from
  • Become less dependent on large food producers

Saving Seeds

By participating in the seed library you are helping to create a culture of sharing and community. Saving seeds leads to a sustainable future for your community and your garden. If you already save seeds, consider contributing to our seed library.

Borrowing seeds from the seed library is FREE! However, your contribution to your community is priceless. Gardening allows you to become more self-sufficient, eat more nutritious food, and save money.

To participate in the seed library we ask that you not only save seeds for yourself but also for the seed library. When you return seeds to the seed library they will be cataloged and other community members can check them out.

The greater number of seeds that are returned to the seed library the greater the number of community members who can benefit.

How it Works

The seed library will start with these seeds because they are fun and easy to grow for beginner seed savers. These seeds tend to produce plants that are like what you planted and are self-pollinating. The seeds are generally easy to harvest and dry.

In 2014 we have purchased seeds from Seed Savers and Fedco.  They are viable through the 2016 growing season.

2014-17 Seed Varieties
Basil Chives Peas
Beans Hot Peppers Sweet Peppers
Beets Kale Spinach
Chard Lettuce (2) Tomatoes (2)

Lemon seedling by Tiny Banquet Committee

Borrowing Seeds

  1. Choose seeds to checkout, take home and plant
  2. You will receive instructions specific to your seeds on how to plant and save seeds
  3. Check out related programs at participating libraries
  4. Plant your seeds and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Returning Seeds

  1. Before harvesting your seeds review the specific instructions you received at checkout.
  2. Once the seeds are collected and fully dried set some aside for yourself to use next year, fill out the information on the labeled envelopes, and place the seeds inside.
  3. Drop off your seeds at your library for  others to check out!

Help Resources:

  • UW-Extension Plant Health Helpline:

May-October there will be a Master Gardener who has gone through the PHA training in the office from 9-12:00, Monday- Friday to answer gardener's questions.  People who call when we aren't at the phone can leave a voice mail. We always call back.  There are times when we have to call back the gardener if we have to do some research to give the caller bona fide answers.  Gardeners can also email us which is very helpful for some questions because people can send email pictures.  The pictures are often very helpful.

Seed Saving Links:

Dane County Seed Library Brochure (pdf) Dane County Biblioteca de Semillas Espanol

Dane County Seed Library Facebook page

Seed Donation Form (pdf)

Planting Instructions (pdf)

Fedco Co-op

Organic Gardening

Seed Savers

Participating Libraries

E.D. Locke Public Library
5920 Milwaukee St., McFarland, WI 53558, 608-838-9030

Fitchburg Public Library
5530 Lace Road, Fitchburg, WI 53711, 608-729-1760

Goodman South Madison Public Library
2222 S Park St, Madison, WI 53713, 608-266-6395

Lakeview, Madison Public Library
2845 N Sherman Ave, Madison, WI 53704, 608-246-4547

Middleton Public Library
7425Hubbard Ave, Middleton, WI 53562, 608-831-5564

Oregon Public Library
256 Brook St, Oregon, WI 53575, (608) 835-3656

Thank you

Funding for this program generously provided by the John A. Johnson Fund and an anonymous donor through the Madison Community Foundation.