Read the full story in Pacific Standard.
As the industry consolidates, seed libraries are emerging like a parallel universe, offering local varieties for farmers and gardeners to test out, replant, and evaluate for other local users. Many are hosted by public lending libraries — adding a new sort of story to the many already on the shelves. The seeds are often housed in small packets inside old-fashioned card catalogs rescued from storage bins when libraries went digital. These small-scale seed sanctuaries are at the forefront of efforts to sustain and nourish a diverse seed supply. The libraries operate according to basic farmer principles, almost nostalgic by now: Those who test the seeds out in their fields are expected to return the following season with a sampling of the results and notes on their performance that might be helpful to the next user.