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Back to March 2024 Newsletter

Seed Libraries Across Canada - Part 8

Dan Reiss & Rayna Almas


It has been more than two years since the original article that sparked the creation of this series, and what we’ve come to realize from connecting with dozens of Seed Library organizers and enthusiasts is that there are pockets of passionate people everywhere. From public libraries to educational institutions; environmental organizations to neighbourhood groups; families and individuals. 

This summer, for the first time, our Youth in Food Systems program will be piloting an inter-school Seed Library in Waterloo Region alongside Smart Waterloo Region’s Nurture project. Connecting young people with our food systems has become an important part of our work, and seed saving is a valuable next step in that. We’re thrilled to have a chance to do this in 20 school gardens this season. 

So, what better way to celebrate the initiation of this project than by highlighting youth-centred Seed Libraries? First up, below, is Galt C.I.’s newly created initiative. Then, Part 9 of the series will feature the Mississauga Youth Seed Library - stay tuned for that one! 




Galt Collegiate Seed Library, Cambridge ON

Cambridge’s Galt Collegiate Institute's inaugural Seed Library was, by any measure, a stunning success. We were fortunate enough to receive seed donations from across Canada, from groups as large as McKenzie Seeds and OSC and as small as 17-year-old garden influencer Emma Biggs. With those in hand, our student leadership group assembled over 1000 seed packages for distribution to our local community. 

The GCI Seed Library created 72 new student gardens and 10 teacher gardens at our school; supplied and introduced seed libraries at three other high schools, reaching over 2700 students; and was used by the Foods & Nutrition, the Grade 9 destreamed Science, and our Multi-Language Learners classes to learn about food security and ecology as related to their curriculums. All in all, we are hearted by the response this small project garnered and look forward to expanding our offerings in 2024! 


What pages did the growing instructions lead to?

Each package had a QR code on it which led to a list of links. Each link led to the specific company's growing instructions. It was important to us to share the knowledge of our suppliers. Check it out: GCI Seed Library - Growing Directions


Which high schools are those other three?

Bluevale CI, Forest Heights CI and Southwood Secondary - After some presentations I did at our Librarian department meeting the librarian at SSS, Shelly Blom, also grew herbs and gave them out. Her co-op student, Ben Bogias, was a former student of mine and he put together the page linked above as a part of his co-op. A colleague at SSS reported that at one point, it seemed like every Gr 12 had a basil plant on their desk before Grad!


Who did all of the packaging, and who was responsible for day-to-day management?

I did a lot of packaging using #1 coin envelopes with help from the leadership class. They would come in when they had spare time between projects. I was responsible for day-to-day management which really just means I filled up empty spaces with fresh envelopes. 


What’s next for the GCI Seed Library?

We are exploring partnerships and interest in creating a community garden or a school food garden. A surprising request was for more varieties of flowers so we’ll include that section this year. We may encourage students to guerilla garden with giant sunflowers (shhhh!) between underutilized cracks in the public sidewalk. I would love to include a separate section for mixes of local pollinator seeds and to spend more time educating students about the need for them. 


How can you help?

Send us seeds! Even partially opened packages that have too many for you to use are welcome - but securely tape them shut first!

Address them to: Dan Reiss, Galt CI Library, 200 Water St N, Cambridge ON, N1R 6V2 



Written by Dan Reiss, Teacher-Librarian at Galt C.I. in Cambridge ON


Back to March 2024 Newsletter

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