Free seeds for the PSU community

The Student Sustainability Center has launched a new seed library at Portland State where any PSU student, staff, or faculty member can check out FREE seeds to plant and grow. By “library,” we mean that you can donate back seeds that you’ve harvested and saved. While harvesting and donating seeds is encouraged so we can keep the library fully stocked, donating back seeds isn’t required. And don’t worry—there are no fines if you don’t return seeds.

The SSC’s seed library also has a variety of books about seed saving, permaculture, plant propagation, and other garden topics that are available for check out.

Find out how to borrow seeds on the seed library webpage.

Background on seed libraries 

Over 500 seed libraries have sprouted across the U.S. over the past few years as part of a movement focused on food security, seed saving, community building, adapting seeds to local regions, preserving genetic diversity, and encouraging the art and science of gardening.

The ancient tradition of seed saving provides much more than just food: seeds also cultivate culture, creativity, community, and connection to the land that sustains our well-being. From seed to soil, we can experience the Earth’s timeless life cycles by participating in the process of growing plants.

Our seeds: Biodiversity is the spice of life

What do you want to grow this year? Our 2016 inventory includes 270 different seed varieties. There are too many types to name! Check the online seed inventory to select beans, peas, melons, pumpkins, lettuces, tomatoes, beets, flowers, herbs, medicinals, teas, and so much more. There is something for everyone.

Will you plant “Teddy Bear” or “Moulin Rouge” sunflowers this season...or both?  Which of our nine varieties of basil—including “Lemon” and “Cinnamon”—excite your tastebuds the most? And would you rather harvest purple, red, or orange carrots? The possibilities for yumminess are endless!

You might also plant milkweed to encourage habitat for monarch butterflies, grow flowers for a friend, or sow seeds for dye plants that will color fabrics naturally! Homegrown seeds, as well as the plants and products they produce, make wonderful gifts for family and friends while saving you money. 

Most of the library’s seeds are about two years old and will have a high germination rate. We have focused on finding seeds that are organic, heirloom, non-GMO, and are open-pollinated. The SSC seed library was made possible by generous seed donations from Botanical Interests, Seed Savers Exchange, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and members of the PSU community.

Heather Spalding oversees PSU's Student Sustainability Center, an accessible hub that integrates sustainability with the student experience through transformational learning opportunities.