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UNC’s first seed library launches, offers community free planting supplies

The University's first seed library was launched in March 2022. It allows students, staff, UNC affiliates and non-UNC community members to permanently "check out" packets of garden seeds, ornamental plants, vegetables and herbs to plant.

On Wednesday afternoon, a crowd of UNC community members formed in the Murray-Venable Courtyard. 

Jordan Green, a masters student in the School of Information and Library Science, stood at a table near the back of the courtyard. Packets of seeds and handfuls of soil, paint and dorm-sized planting pots were spread out in front of her. 

It soon became clear what everyone was waiting for — the launching of UNC’s first seed library. 

The library is the result of a project proposal from Green, who is also a Carolina Academic Library Associate at University Libraries. 

“When I started my position as a CALA here, I was brainstorming project ideas," Green said. "And that was one thing that came to mind that was not yet here, but I thought might fit really well."

Green said she envisioned a communal seed library where students, staff, UNC affiliates and non-UNC members could come and permanently “check out” packets of garden seeds, ornamental plants, vegetables and herbs. 

"I can just use the plant libraries and resources to learn more about plants and how to take care of them — that would be a really cool thing," said Sa’tia Brown, a junior music major who attended the launch. 

The seed library offers seeds from native North Carolina plants that support local pollinators, Green said, in addition to free pots and soil. It is located at the Kenan Science Library Makerspace. 

She said she's been fortunate to spearhead the creation of the seed library.

"I thought it would be a really great outreach opportunity for the library," she said. "I think the library is pursuing it because it's a great way to connect with students to share something that’s surprising and different, maybe joyful and stress relieving in a difficult time.”

Students decorate pots and plant seeds at the Kenan Science Library's seed library launch party on Wednesday, Mar. 2, 2022.

The seed library is funded through the Student Library Advisory Board, the North Carolina State Extension Office, and donations from outside donors. The library is also supported by community members who circulate seeds of their own plants.

Green said the space gives University Libraries an opportunity to connect with other initiatives on or near campus, such as the North Carolina Botanical Garden and the Edible Campus UNC program.

For the program's future, she hopes to expand the variety of plants offered and have it reach across the student body.

She said the seed library will benefit a wide range of students, those pursuing academic research in ecology or botany, and those simply interested in gardening. 

“It’s something that could provide them some information and physical materials to get started, lower that barrier to entry a little bit,” Green said. 

Those who visit the area can check out a packet and then go home to grow those plants — patrons of the seed library may even bring back the seeds from what they grew, she added. 

Anya Raheja, a sophomore environmental science major who also attended the launch, plans to grow the plant she received from the launch party on her dorm room windowsill. 

“It’s really cool that we’re all getting a perspective on how to grow plants and what goes into it,” Raheja said. “(The seed library) can definitely teach you about agriculture and sustainable food systems.”


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