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By Tracy Ihnot

Gardeners across the county are relishing the cooler days of fall, and as they reap the benefits of the harvest, many are planning for next spring by saving seeds. Seed saving is the practice of saving seeds from one harvest for use in the subsequent harvest.

The Delta County Seed Library relies on seed saving in the fall after providing thousands of seed packets for library patrons every spring.

“Seed returns are a vital step in the process of preparing for spring checkouts,” explains Sarah Smith, library manager and key contributor to the seed library. “We do not require that patrons return seeds to the library if they check out seed packets, but we do rely on the patrons who are willing to do so.”

“Seeds must fully mature before saving,” Smith says.  “Depending on the type of plant, seeds can be harvested in a few different ways.”  Dry, wet, and fermentation seed processing are all strategies that Smith encourages patrons to use when seed saving.

“When patrons are ready to return seeds to the library, a donation form needs to be completed.  The more information we have about the type of plant, how and where it was grown, and any other special circumstances, the better we can track the success of our seed library,” Smith explains.

The libraries offer a variety of resources on seed saving as well as opportunities to contribute to the community-sustained program. After collecting seeds throughout the fall, volunteers play a key role in packaging seeds.

“The process of collecting, sorting, and hand-packaging seeds keeps us busy year-round,” Smith says, “and we would not be able to handle the workload without the help we receive from community volunteers.”

By offering a collection of heirloom seeds to grow, harvest, and return, Delta County Libraries’ goal is to inspire local growers to learn to save seeds for continued and future use. The cyclical process of maintaining a shared seed library supports a sense of heritage and community among local famers, neighborhood gardeners, and anyone interested in growing plants.

To learn more about the seed library, seed saving, and how to get involved, contact the libraries or visit



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