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At This Library, Borrow Seeds Instead of Books

March 19, 2012
SLOLA provides free seeds to fellow gardeners but also want to preserve local agricultural diversity. (Photo by: SLOLA)

A library full of books? How old fashioned. In Venice, The Seed Library of Los Angeles (SLOLA) is a lending library stocked with heritage, non-GMO, native vegetable and fruit seeds—no whispering required.

A lifetime membership costs $10, though no one is turned away for lack of funds. All experience levels are welcome, from gardening gurus to one-tomato-plant-in-a-pot apartment dwellers.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Borrow seeds of unique varietals. (An online database lists all the seeds available.)
  2. Plant the seeds, then grow and enjoy the heirloom fruit and vegetable harvest, while letting a few plants go to seed.
  3. At the end of the season, gather open-pollinated seeds and return the same amount—if not more—to SLOLA, where they are tested for GMO contamination. If they pass, they’re catalogued and added back to the official library, which is housed in a donated refrigerator.

The library also happily accepts donations of heirloom and open-pollinated seeds.

Once a month SLOLA holds meetings at The Learning Garden at Venice High School, where members can borrow or return seeds, plus ask questions of each other and the gardeners on the Best Practices committee. The meetings also include an educational presentation.

In addition, SLOLA offers classes and seminars around town on gardening, seed preservation and sustainable living, and keeps a calendar of other healthful food and living events happening throughout Southern California.

…You could say the town is going to seed.

Photos courtesy of SLOLA.

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