The Butte Seed Library is a free program committed to increasing our ability to feed ourselves wholesome food by offering seeds and education. Through the time-honored tradition of seed saving, we celebrate biodiversity, nurture locally adapted plant varieties, and foster community resilience, self-reliance and a culture of sharing. Members may check out twenty packets per month and must have a library card in good standing.
The Seed Library operates on the honor system. To become a member, fill out a membership form and check out seeds at the reference desk on the 2nd floor. We encourage all members to learn basic seed-saving techniques. We encourage beginning seed savers to grow out and return seeds from lettuce, tomato, bean, or pea plants the first year. If you are unable to save your own seed, please consider donating a packet or two of fresh, commercially grown, open-pollinated (non-hybrid, non-GMO) seed to keep the library stocked.
Open pollination is pollination that happens naturally via insects, wind, or animals and results in offspring that are the same as the parent plant. We ask that all seeds donated to the library come from open-pollinated plants.
Heirloom plants are open-pollinated varieties that have been passed down within a community or family. While all heirlooms are open-pollinated, not all open-pollinated varieties are heirlooms. Heirlooms are great, and we love to have them in the seed library, but seeds do not have to be heirlooms to be included in the library.
Genetically Modified Organisms
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are created by altering an organism’s DNA in ways that could not occur by natural reporduction or mutation (e.g. inserting a gene from one species into another unrelated species). Seeds from GMOs cannot be donated to the seed library.
Hybrid plants have been carefully bred by human intervention for specific characteristics. Hybrids, however, are not GMOs. Although human intervention is involved (e.g. manually moving pollen from one plant to another), the plant’s biological processes are not disrupted. Also, the results of hybridization can potentially occur without human intervention, while the results of genetic modification or bio-engineering cannot.
The reason we do not want hybrid seeds in the seed library is because they do not “breed true.” This means that they do not produce offspring similar to themselves. So the person who checks out the seeds harvested from a b hybrid tomato plant will grow a different tomato from that which produced the seeds. Because we want everyone who checks out seeds from the seed library to get the best results possible, please don’t donate seeds from hybrid plants. We also ask that you don’t donate hybrid seeds, because while the first person to check them out will know what they are getting, any harvested seeds will be unpredictable.