Off the Shelf: New NOLS Grows seed library sprouts

Spring has been slow to arrive this year, but the North Olympic Library System got the growing season going early, with the rollout of a new collection, the NOLS Grows Seed Library.

This innovative new collection offers free vegetable seeds to the community, along with educational materials and encouragement.

The NOLS Grows Seed Library is a seed exchange kiosk, stocked with small, pre-packaged quantities of free vegetable seeds and other educational materials related to gardening, growing and seed-saving. Seeds are freely available to be taken home and grown by you, your friends and your family.

In its first growing season, the NOLS Grows Seed Library is housed at the Port Angeles Library, charmingly “shelved” in a repurposed card catalog. NOLS Grows encourages everyone, even those with absolutely no gardening experience, to take part. There is no obligation to return seeds and you do not need a library card to participate.

NOLS Grows began as the seed of an idea more than two years ago and gradually blossomed into a garden of community engagement. The collection would not be possible without initial “seeding” from High Mowing Organic Seeds, Port Angeles Community Gardens, Salt Creek Farm and the WSU Extension Office. Maintenance of the collection relies on the efforts of a dedicated team of volunteer “Seed Stewards.” The voluntary seed saving component of the collection allows participants to give back to the growing community.

More than 80 people attended the grand opening celebration of NOLS Grows in March, to find seeds, learn, swap stories and share deeply rooted memories. Since opening night, the Seed Library has seen more than 100 borrowers and more than 700 borrowed seed packets. That’s roughly 6,350 seeds!

NOLS Grows provides community members with a low cost opportunity to try out gardening and to experiment with growing small quantities of different plant varieties in order to encourage responsible stewardship, expand knowledge about growing food, help people acquire new skills and strengthen community.

The vision behind NOLS Grows is that every seed borrowed will become part of a living story: a seed germinating in the soil, a plant alive and thriving, fresh healthy food shared with friends and family, an opportunity to study and marvel at the ways of nature — and harvested seeds to be returned to the Seed Library to begin the cycle again.

To learn more about the NOLS Grows Seed Library, find helpful growing resources, or learn how to become a Seed Steward, visit (click “Services, “NOLS Grows Seed Library”), send an email to or call 417- 8500.

The Seed Library is in the living room of the Port Angeles Library, 2210 S. Peabody St., Port Angeles.

Paige Belfry is a customer service specialist with the North Olympic Library System.

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