A Seed Library Grows in Clayton


Our Seed Library has over 100 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and wildflowers.

Stop in and take home seeds for your gardens.

It's just as easy as borrowing a book.


Take a look at our



Seed Library Mission Statement:

To create a culture of learning, sharing, and community through sustainable seed saving that reclaims seeds as a public resource, encourages biodiversity as an alternative to genetically modified seeds, fosters self-reliance over large food producers, advances food security, promotes a healthy diet, and develops seeds adapted to thrive in the soils and climate of our region.

To collect seeds of local heirloom varieties and the folk stories that come with them to stave the loss of native seed, our natural environment, and our North County history.

Click the image to read a Watertown Daily Times article on the Seed Library.

The Need for a Seed Library in the Town of Clayton

It’s easy to take seeds for granted. Tiny, dry pods hidden in packets and sacks, they make a brief appearance as gardeners and farmers collect them for future planting then later drop them into soil. They are not “what’s for dinner,” yet without them there would be no dinner. Seeds are the forgotten heroes of food, and of life itself, and they are under assault.

We are on the verge of losing in one generation much of the agricultural diversity humankind took 10,000 years to create. As late as 1900, food for the planet’s hungry was provided by as many as 1500 different plants, each further represented by thousands of different cultivated varieties. Where once diverse strains strengthened each local ecosystem, currently, a handful of super-hybrid varieties are “mono-cropping” farms and gardens worldwide.

Over the last 30 years, advances in molecular biology have allowed the development of genetically modified seeds. These “transgenic” seeds are infertile, incapable of producing seeds for another generation of plants. Seed libraries, a type of agricultural commons, share with gardeners and farmers heirloom plant varieties that will grow the exact same plant next year if the seeds from this year’s crop are saved.

In 2010 there were a dozen seed libraries in the United States, today there are more than 300. The Town of Clayton Seed Library is the only one in our region and the hunger for hearty and tasty vegetables and the desire to be self-reliant run strong here.

As a public library, and now as a seed library, Depauville Free Library develops highly curated collections. We offer access to organic, heirloom seeds suited for our climate and to cutting edge information on how to grow plants, to harvest them for food, and to gather their seeds to save for next year’s garden.

For thousands of years, harvesting seed was a vital, often sacred, ritual. People immigrating to the United States very often sewed their saved seeds into the hems of their clothing, safeguarding their precious heirlooms from possible confiscation at customs. The seed supply, a life source and essential part of nature’s bounty, once commonly held, will be put back in the hands of the people of the Town of Clayton as the Seed Library takes root in North Country soil.

Accomplishments and Activities

After considering various organizational schemes for the seed library, utilizing a library approach seemed the most workable and fitting.

The Seed Library will “lend out” seeds, just as Depauville Free Library lends out books, with a loan period, however, that is quite a bit longer, lasting until the end of the growing season. After harvesting the seeds from a healthy crop, the saved seeds will be “returned” to replenish the collection…. a collection that should over time improve in hardiness and taste.

For the 2015 growing season, the Seed Library’s first, Depauville Free Library purchased organic heirloom vegetable, herb, and flower seeds.

To showcase and publicize the Seed Library, a straw bale garden was laid out in the front lawn of Depauville Free Library the summer of 2015 and  planted with seed from the Town of Clayton Seed Library and maintained by community volunteers.

Workshops are run to educate town residents about the types of seeds, the importance of growing from heirloom and saved seed, companion planting, harvesting, gathering and saving seeds, canning and preserving.