Simple ways to save in the garden: Seed libraries

Grainothèques are popping up all over France, allowing the public to take home for free and donate to the collective library of seeds

4 November 2020
Seed libraries - grainothèques - are built on trust and usually appear in public libraries
By Connexion journalist

One way of cutting gardening costs is to use the growing number of seed libraries.

Anybody can take seeds home from a grainothèque in a public library. If they want they can also take in seeds from their garden and leave them for others.

Some libraries set out seeds according to the month they should be planted in, others according to variety.

Some set them up in partnership with gardening or environmental associations.

Seven out of 15 libraries in Lyon have a grainothèque.

Sabrina Abramovitch, manager of the Saint- Rambert branch, says the idea has been developing over the past few years: “It is a new service libraries can offer,” she said.

“It is open to the public generally not just library members. Each participating library has a chest with drawers, or a box on a shelf with paper envelopes containing around 10 seeds each. They can be for flowers, vegetables or herbs, and should be organic and not sterile. The system depends on trust.”

We said they also run workshops on how to collect your own seeds. “One, this November, will concentrate on fennel, carrot, beetroot and salads,” she said.

In Vence, Alpes-Maritimes, the public media library launched its grainothèque at the end of September in partnership with a local environmental association. It aims to help town-dwellers grow seeds on windowsills or in pots, to show how many varieties of plant exist, and to encourage diversity.

With both urban and rural libraries now involved there may be one near you. Some local associations also organise seed exchanging banks.

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