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Photo credit: Elizabeth Kennedy

Everyone’s talking about urban farming these days, but finding the money and buying the right seeds can be a daunting task that sends would-be kitchen gardeners reaching for their take-out menus instead. Imagine you could come to your local library and check everything out at once. You could get your blueberries and your beets right along with your books. If Rebecca Newburn from Richmond Grows has her way, that’s exactly what you’ll be able to do.

At the Richmond Public Library in East Bay, a collection of seeds is available to the public. All you need to do is come check out the seeds, grow them in your garden, and make a commitment to come back and replenish the stores. Newburn, a sixth-grade teacher and Richmond resident, has just celebrated the one-year anniversary of this innovative seed lending library that she cofounded to promote community education in seed saving, starting seeds indoor and basic gardening.

People who don’t have a lot of resources can come down and borrow a couple lettuce seeds, and get fresh, healthy vegetables and thousands more seeds in return. This amounts to a great return on investment; allowing people to return an abundance of seeds, have seeds for themselves, their neighbors, and for the library. Seed saving is empowering for people, providing a connection to their food and giving back to the community in a really powerful way.

Each set of seeds comes with information on how easy or hard they are to grow, and a brief orientation that teaches you everything you need to get started with seed saving. You can even grow in an apartment or any other city setting, as they also offer resources on how to grow fruits, veggies, and herbs in containers.

If you’re interested in starting a seed lending library in your own community, it’s super easy to get started. Visit the Richmond Grows website and click on “create your own seed lending library“. Since Newburn started hers a year ago, thirteen other libraries have opened. Richmond Grows is helping turn backyard gardening into a community effort that provides local residents with some sweet rewards.