In Wyoming's Cold Climate, A Seed Library Sprouts

Sep 28, 2015

To get the seed library going, they started with donations from seed companies.
Credit Albany County Public Library

Gardening in Wyoming’s cold, arid climate can be challenging, but using seeds that were raised and collected here could improve the results. So when Albany County Library’s Public Services Specialist Cassandra Hunter heard of a so-called ‘seed library’ in Montana, she decided to start one in Laramie. She says the area falls in one of the most difficult growing zones to garden in.

Not much grows here. But if we were to take heirloom seeds and cultivate them and adapt them to our environment, we could actually do really great things

  

The Seed Library will host seed collection workshops.
Credit Albany County Public Library

“I think that our climate is really problematic and so, on a good day we’re zone 3, maybe? Mostly zone 4 and that kind of sucks, honestly,” she says, laughing. “Not much grows here. But if we were to take heirloom seeds and cultivate them and adapt them to our environment, we could actually do really great things and that doesn’t exist yet.”

Hunter says this kind of library could be valuable for gardeners in Wyoming’s high, dry climate. She explains that a seed library works a lot like a book library.

“You don’t have a due date necessarily,” she says. “So basically, the idea is that you’ll check out a packet of seeds, you’ll go, you’ll plant them in your garden, you’ll let X plants go to seed. And then you’ll return those seeds.”

Hunter says seeds collected from generations of plants grown in Wyoming’s climate could produce larger, healthier vegetables.

“When you’re saving seeds, you’re going to take the best plants. So if you have a really great lettuce, you’re going to let that lettuce bolt. And those seeds are going to be your good seeds,” she says. “And then you’re going to take those seeds, plant them the next year and then in about five generations, you’ll have this plant that’s adapted to our climate. So that’s the hope.”

She says the library plans to teach the public how to successfully collect viable seeds through a series of potluck workshops. The first is October 3 at 6 p.m. at the Albany County Public Library in Laramie.