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Duluth will be home to state's first public seed library

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Duluth Public Library patrons will soon be able to borrow more than just books.

  Starting next spring, library customers can borrow heirloom seeds of tomatoes, peppers, beans and other plants to grow in their gardens. After the growing season, they'll be asked to save a portion of seeds for themselves and return a portion to the library. 

  Organizers say it's the first public seed library of its kind in Minnesota. There are about 60 across the U.S. now, including one in La Crosse, Wis.

  "Seed is a public legacy, it is a gift that we all share," said Jamie Harvie, executive director of the Duluth-based nonprofit Institute for a Sustainable Future, which is partnering with the library.

  Project leaders hope the seed library will help preserve locally adapted seed varieties and encourage eating fresh vegetables, Harvie added.

  Along with seeds, participants will also be able to check out books and handouts on gardening. St. Louis County Extension Master Gardeners will also teach seed saving classes.

  The seed effort is "consistent with our role as the public repository of a diversity of knowledge," said Library Manager Carla Powers.