Seedsaving and seed checkout

Each type of plant requires different seedsaving techniques. The JTEL maintains a collection of useful books that explain how to do this. See also our basic FAQs page.

Checkout & return of seeds

  • Members of the library may check out seeds, but those who wish to become library seed stewards must also sign a stewardship agreement: to preserve varieties according to best practices (good seedsaving protocol) and return seeds to the library. (See full text here.) This may sound daunting, but really, all it means is that you’ll bring back seeds of the same variety from the plants you grew and try not to accidentally cross them with something else. The purpose is to preserve the specific heirloom or landrace stock, expand or maintain the library’s collections, and avoid contamination by GMOs, patented varieties, or hybrids.
  • Seed stewards may check out seeds at any time during library hours.
  • Seedswap seed stock is free to library members and the public both and does not require the GEB seed steward agreement. Seedswap seeds may include heirlooms, but also hybrids, commercial seeds that aren’t suitable for Alaska’s harsh zone 1 conditions, old seeds that won’t germinate well, or non-organic seeds. Or, they may do perfectly well—but nobody in the area will have grown them out first to see.
  • To return seeds, save seed at harvest time from the plants you’ve grown from library seeds and—this is important—used reasonable care to keep the seedline pure. Make sure the seed is dry and stored in a cool but neither too hot nor cold location. Bring the seed to the library when you are sure it is dormant. We have a community seed event, Seedstock, that takes place the first Saturday in spring, to which you can bring seed, or you can bring it at any time from harvest on.
  • Be sure to label your seed. Include the name of the plant, species, variety, where it was grown, details of care, when the seed was harvested, etc. The more information, the better. If the seed has stories associated with it, or particular uses of interest, please add these.