Duluth library's seed-sharing program restocked

Seed library
Duluth seed library members donate seeds they harvest in the fall, including peppers, tomatoes, and beans, May 22, 2015.
Dan Kraker | MPR News

The Duluth Public Library has restocked its seed library with seeds from local gardeners after Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill exempting the program from state agriculture laws.

Launched last spring, the program lent bean, tomato, pepper and other seeds to gardeners and asked them to return some of the seeds they harvested in the fall.

But the state Department of Agriculture told the library it violated laws that require seeds to be tested and labeled before they are sold or given away.

The new law, the first of its kind in the country, exempts seed libraries and individuals from those rules.

Although the library instead lent out purchased seeds, that defeated the purpose of the program, which has grown to nearly 400 members, Duluth Public Library Manager Carla Powers said.

"Part of the idea behind a seed library is to help develop a locally adapted seed stock," Powers said. "We wanted to get that seed back from gardeners that they had planted the previous year so that it can be planted this year."

That would help improve the strains over many generations of seeds, she said.

"We've got them labeled so people know they're donated by local gardeners," Powers said. "They might not have the greatest germination rate, they might possibly not be true to type, but we feel like that's part of the education process."

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