Here is the draft protocol for seed libraries that was prepared by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in cooperation with the Cumberland County Library System.

I. Library procures licensed and properly labeled seed to give away to its patrons

  • How the library assembles this initial seed library is up to them
  1. solicit patrons, local volunteer groups, social groups, churches, etc. for seed packets meeting their specifications (traditional, heirloom, organic, etc.)
  2. monetary donations to purchase seeds from local retail stores in community
  3. seeds donated by local retail stores or seed distributors

II. Patrons “check out” seeds from the seed library

  • Library gathers participant’s contact information as a member of the “Library Seed Club” (or whatever name the library chooses to call this group)
  • Library provides simple “informational cards” for each type of seed given out
  • Library provides information on seed-saving and saving/storage techniques

III. Club members take the seeds home and plant and grow them

  • Care for and harvest seeds doing their best to follow library guidelines for producing good seeds
  • Fill out informational cards provided by the library to help the next growers know what they are getting and any other useful information

IV. Library establishes mid-season and/or post-season seed swap day(s)

  • Library acts as a meeting place for individuals to swap or trade harvested/saved seeds with other members
  • The library promotes that these seeds be planted the next season and any resulting harvested seeds be used in the next season’s seed swap(s)
  • Returns to the library will not be allowed. Members may only check out/trade/swap seeds with each other

V. Each year the library starts with “fresh” seeds meeting their specifications

  • Ensures there will be seeds available to plant
  • Encourages new participants to participate and increase the community of growers.

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