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Back to December 2023 Newsletter

Seed Libraries Across Canada, Part 7 - Northern Ontario

“Seeds are a living treasure, and they belong in the hands of farmers, not corporations.” - Vandana Shiva

We continue our Seed Library journey with the above quote in mind. Through sharing seeds and resources, Seed Libraries bring communities together to protect and provide public access to seeds, building food sovereignty at a time of so much uncertainty within our food systems. In this part of our journey we head on up to Northern Ontario, where we meet three initiatives - in Bonfield, Sudbury, and Schreiber.

Do you know of any Seed Libraries in your neck of the woods? We want to know about them, too! Throughout 2024, we’ll be continuing our series with journeys through the east coast, the west coast, and the prairies; to youth initiatives and schools, rural communities and urban neighbourhoods. 

Bonfield ON 

Bonfield Seed Lending Library is located in the beautiful northern community of Bonfield, Ontario. It was created in the spring of 2017 thanks to the generous support of the Bonfield Public Library and the Friends of the Bonfield Library. The Bonfield Public Library provides the space for the seed catalogue while the Friends provided financial support needed to get the library up and running by stocking the drawers and covering the costs of packaging. The Bonfield Seed Lending Library is run 100% by volunteers. 

Although the Seed Lending library is located in the public library, participants are not required to be community members or be library patrons. The idea is to have no barriers to accessing the seed catalogue. The lending library runs on the honour system where participants log what seeds they have borrowed and what seeds they have returned.

Working closely with seed exchange events, local seed producers and larger seed companies, the Seed Lending Library was initially stocked with purchased/traded seeds but in the years since its creation has grown to include locally adapted seeds. The library currently contains over 160 seed varieties and this number grows with every growing season.

Unfortunately, during the pandemic access to the Seed Lending Library was cut off and the work for the past few years has focused on replacing aging seeds with newer seeds. Participants have been slowly helping to restock the Bonfield Seed Lending Library with seeds to meet the specific needs of its participants which varies from food accessibility to beautification.




Sudbury ON 

The Greater Sudbury Seed Library is a free program whose goal is to strengthen our community of gardeners and local eaters by sharing biodiverse, locally-adapted seeds.

The Main library (74 Mackenzie) and Lively Library & Citizen Service Centre (15 Kin Dr, Lively ON) have the seed library program, focusing on sharing food seeds to support local food security.

We aim to protect food biodiversity by:

  • encouraging gardeners to save and share local seeds

  • connecting local gardeners and seed savers

  • sharing local gardening resources


Seeds are packaged and labelled with the plant type and year the seed was collected. Patrons can come and pick up seeds at the start of the growing season, and then collect and donate seeds at the end of the season.

In the past, GSPL has supplied seeds from the Seed Library for non-profit groups' growing projects and has received seeds from Seedy Sudbury and Science North.


Learn more about the Greater Sudbury Seed Library: 



Schreiber ON 

On the North Shore of Lake Superior in a small community of even smaller towns and villages, we held the first Seedy Saturday to take place here in the Spring of 2023.

After starting an online group for the community to trade seeds, plants, gardening advice, and share photos in 2019, the group grew to over 10% of the local population. Although our growing season is short and challenging, there are many people who grow food in their yards and in the community garden!

Inspired by Jen Edwards and her “Erin Seed Library” and “Seedy Saturdays” in Southern Ontario, EcoRestore and the Ecosystem Restoration Community decided to start holding Seedy Saturdays in Schreiber, and to also start a Community Seed Library!

The excitement grew into having 3 Seedy Saturdays in 2023, including the last one in September as part of the first annual “Harvest Fair” in Schreiber. The Harvest Fair is a celebration of local food growing and had many partners join to make a fun day for all, including some games and prizes for kids, pie sale for the food bank, fundraising for the library, local vendors, and of course a Seedy Saturday plant and seed swap! The Community Seed Library in Schreiber is housed at the Schreiber Public Library, and accessible to community members during library hours. 

We have also involved the local Community Garden in some seed saving, and with planting more native food plants and flowers. Community members can also access information about seed saving, germination, and growing in the Community Seed Library binder, at Seedy Saturdays, and at meetings and workshops!

We hope to expand and have another set of seeds available in the Terrace Bay Library, and in Pays Plat. We have started trading with other seed libraries and seed savers, with a first “trade” from Jen at the Erin Seed Library, and seeds from Seeds of Diversity!


Repost: Timmins ON - from Seed Libraries Part 5


Borrow-grow-harvest and share!

It was with the help of local partners and our community that the Seed Library at the C.M. Shields Centennial Branch of the Timmins Public Library was founded in 2017. What an adventure it has been! We’ve discovered that so many community members are experienced gardeners who love to share their knowledge and time.

I wasn’t much of a gardener before creating the Seed Library. Most of the knowledge I’ve gained is from all of the wonderful partners and Seed Library members that have given presentation or taken part in our fantastic programs. And of course, we offer so many great books to help in our gardening pursuits. Gardening is all about learning and evolving. With practice and a supportive community, together we can overcome our gardening challenges and celebrate successes, to successfully grow open-pollinated local heirloom seeds.

In a blink of an eye, we are six years in and we’ve partnered with more than 10 different organizations. It truly is a community project that helps us learn and grow together. We’ve partnered with Cochrane Master Gardeners, Black River Foraging Co, Anti-Hunger Coalition, Greener Spaces, Fancy Plants, Northbound Bloom, Home Depot, Bee City Timmins, and many more. Without the support of these local organizations and businesses, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Public libraries are a place to share ideas and learn. This initiative has taught our community how to borrow-grow-harvest and share! And share they have. To date, we have: shared more than 2,000 seed envelopes, gained over 200 Seed Library members, hosted 39 programs with 991 attendances and our Seed Library inventory has exploded. We’ve taught our community different skills: from seed starting to composting including straw bale gardening, seed saving, pollinator gardening, food forests, and so many more. We’ve even enlisted the help of members to sort and prepare seed donations. These events were cleverly named Seed Parties. The members truly enjoy sitting together preparing our seeds for borrowing while sharing their garden challenges and triumphs.

Our library system prides itself in being a community hub connecting people through our everyday activities and programs, and providing equitable access to literacy and lifelong learning opportunities. This is yet another way that our library branch serves its community and it has truly been embraced. Our Seed Library has connected many of us back to our community and to our mother earth.


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