Seed library branch

inforum branch of the seed library poster by Caitlin Taguibao Illustration & DesignWelcome to the Inforum branch of the Toronto Seed Library (TSL). Our branch has been in operation since March 2014.

Location & hours

This Seed Library branch is located in the library of the Faculty of Information, called the Inforum. We are located at 140 St. George Street, 4th & 5th floors. The seeds are on the 5th floor. If you visited us in our temporary home at Robarts Library (April-August 2016), we hope that you visit us again in our permanent location. Consult our hours of opening before you come.

    There are 3 other seed library branches at the University of Toronto, and many more throughout the city. Events are listed on the TSL calendar.

    logo of the Toronto Seed LibraryWhat is a seed library? 

    Seed libraries differ from seed banks - their primary focus is not conservation, but on the dissemination of seeds as widely as possible. 

    Seed libraries operate similarly to your local public library, but instead of stocking books, they carry organic, open-pollinated vegetable, annual, and perennial seeds, with a focus on heritage or heirloom varieties, as well as those best adapted to local conditions. 

    Just as public libraries help facilitate mass literacy, seed libraries help to spread seed and food literacy. People 'sign out' seeds at no charge, plant the seeds, raise the plants, let some of it go to seed (see handbook for seed-saving techniques), then bring those seeds back to the library, so that the seed collection continues to grow.  

    scarlet runner beansSeedy services available at the Inforum branch

    Getting seeds

    Just come and take any of our seeds home to sow.  There is no cost or membership, and you do NOT have to be part of the iSchool or U of T community. The seeds we have ready to 'borrow' include: herbs, tomatoes, leafy greens, melons, squash, pumpkins, zucchini, root vegetable, beans, peas, and many more. 

    Leaving seeds

    Donations of seeds are welcome at any time.  Just fill out the brief donation form so that we know something about the seeds.  Please include the type, place, and year in which you saved them. (e. g. Borage, Hart House Garden, 2012). As much information about the seed's history is encouraged. 

    We accept all seeds, but prioritize clean, mature seeds that, to the best of your knowledge, are organic and open-pollinated. These seeds will be used to restock our branches and for our "seed-saving stream." Seeds of unknown or questionable origin and viability are still valued and will be used for general outreach and will be grown for food rather than seeds.

    sunflower seedlingBooks 

    We maintain a small reference library of books about seeds and gardening. These books are not available for borrowing, but you are welcome to read them in the library, or make copies.  See below for an annotated listing. 

    Branch news

    February 2017: New seeds received just in time for setting indoor seedlings!  We've got leafy greens, herbs, beets, and lots more.  

    September 2016: We have moved back to our newly renovated home at 140 St. George Street (Bissell Building), 4th and 5th floors. The seed library is on the 5th floor.

    card catalogue drawers containing seed packetsAugust 2016:  Our seed library was in Metro News! We were on the UTL website and on Instagram (U of T Libraries U of T Student Life; and, an individual)'s account)!

    May 2016:  New seeds received include lovage, amaranth, Dark Red Detroit beets, parsnips, all kinds of tomatoes, and more.  Come get some!

    April 2016:  We've moved over to Robarts Library for the summer, taking our Seed Library with us.  We will be in this temporary location while the Inforum is being renovated.  Come visit us here!

    November 2015: Not too late to share some seeds.  We hope your harvest was bountiful this year.  If you have seeds to donate back to our branch, we would love to have them.  Envelopes provided.

    August 2015:  Gardens are in full bloom, and soon it will be time to harvest.  We would love to receive your seedy donations!  The How to Save Seeds Handbook will help you.

    Spring 2015:  Recently donated seeds include:

    • Wild lupins and columbines from St. Margaret's Bay, Nova Scotia
    • Scarlet runner beans started from English seeds in the 1990s.

    About the seed library movement 

    The Toronto Seed Library was initiated in November 2012, primarily by the Occupy Gardens Toronto collective and students from the University of Toronto and York University. A growing cooperative of individuals and organizations, seed savers, gardeners, farmers, educators, librarians, policy makers, and food-lovers of all varieties are creating a free,self-perpetuating, seed library program. 

    some books on seeds and growing foodResources 

    Books available to read in the Inforum

    These books are NOT in listed in the University of Toronto Library Catalogue

    Ball, J. (1983). The self-sufficient suburban garden. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press.
    This book presents a five year plan for turning a plain, unadorned lawn into a full-scale food production system.

    Flowerdew, B., McVicar, J., and Biggs, M. (2002). Vegetables, herbs & fruit: An illustrated encyclopedia. San Diego, CA: Laurel Glen.
    A complete guide to selecting, cultivating, harvesting, preserving, and cooking vegetables, herbs, and fruit. With well over 100 different herbs, 70 vegetables, and 100 fruits described, and more than 100 recipes this encyclopedia is a true cornerstone for any gardener's library.

    Hyland, R. (1982). Food gardening: Growing attractive vegetables, fruits, and herbs in city and suburbs. Kennett Square, PA: Longwood Gardens.
    This guide to gardening provides advice on landscaping with edible plants, intensive outdoor food gardening, solar gardening, and easy-to build garden structures.

    Newcomb, D. (1993). Small space, big harvest: Grow more than 200 pounds of produce in a 5' X 5' plot naturally. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing.
    Perfect for city dwellers who lack the space for a large garden this book helps you get the most out of even the smallest plot of land.

    Ray, J. (2012). The seed underground: A growing revolution to save food. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.
    Looking at the growing trend of local food and local farming, this book reminds us that our food security and sovereignty as well as our heritage and history may be at stake as seeds disappear.

    Robin, M. (2008). The world according to Monsanto: Pollution, corruption, and the control of our food supply. New York: The New Press.
    Chronicling the multinational agribusiness corporation Monsanto, this book exposes how the practices of Monsanto are threatening our food supply.

    Seeds of Diversity Canada. (2013). How to save your own seeds: A handbook for small-scale seed production. Toronto.
    Become part of the growing movement of seed savers who are rediscovering and sharing Canada's traditional fruits, flowers, and vegetables.

    von Baeyer, E. & Shields, D. (1993). The no-garden gardener: Container gardening on balconies, decks, patios and porches. Toronto; New York: Random House.
    Written for those who are new to gardening, this book fills you in on how much greenery is possible in your small space.  

    Educational sources

    LibGuides & other compilations of seeds & seed library movement resources

    Campaigns & organizations

    Credits: Poster of the Inforum seed library branch: Caitlin Taguibao Illustration & Design