Seed Exchange at the Weston Family Library


We are happy to offer the Seed Exchange program again! This reimagined community service, previously known as the Seed Library, is perfect for Toronto Botanical Garden members and staff to be part of community science project to conserve and share seeds. This library outreach is a service with the goal of increasing awareness of and supporting sustainable food and gardening practices while building community. Through seed saving and sharing, we celebrate biodiversity, nurture locally adapted plant varieties, encourage time in nature, as well as foster community connections and a culture of sharing. 

What is it? 

The basic idea is this: you check out a packet of seeds, plant them, and let some of them go to maturity. You then harvest them according to best practices and return that next generation of seeds to the Weston Family Seed Exchange so other people can check them out. 

The Seed Exchange encourages the community to grow their own food by providing a resource for heirloom and open-pollinated vegetable and plant seeds. We aim to inspire self-reliance, healthy eating, and a culture of sharing in the community as part of Toronto Botanical Garden’s rich horticultural heritage. 

At the Weston Family Library, members can find seed packets and books about seed harvesting in the library and online. Members can borrow seed packets and authoritative books on seed saving with a TBG or Book Lovers membership. The community can access classes offered by Toronto Botanical Garden on how to save seeds at the end of the growing season.  

The Seed Exchange is online for 2021! In the fall, members who harvest seeds from their garden can order seed saving packets from the library and pick them up at the Curbside Pick-up and Return Service. To deposit the packets back to the library, bring them to the library’s drop box located at the main doors Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. 

How it Works

Toronto Botanical Garden and Book Lovers members can participate in the Seed Exchange by: 

  • Growing out seed and returning freshly saved seed to us 
  • Donating varieties from their seed collection to the Seed Exchange 

How to get Weston Family Library official seed packets 

Ready to donate seed to the Seed Exchange? Requesting official Weston Family Library seed packets is the first step. Follow these steps to get empty seed packets: 

  1. Complete the request form. 
  2. You will be notified when the packets are ready for pickup at the Curbside Pickup and Return Services. 
  3. Come to the Garden and get your packets. 

Request Official Seed Packet (button linking out to form) 

Request official seed packets

How to return or donate seeds 

The Weston Family Library accepts donations of native, organic, openly pollinated, heirloom vegetable, herb, and flower seeds, grown and collected by home and community gardeners around Ontario. 

All donated seeds must be mature, dry, and free of dirt, debris, and chaff. Only seed in official Weston Family Seed Exchange packets are accepted.  

  1. Harvest seeds from your heirloom or open-pollinated vegetables or flowers in the fall following the method required for the varietal. 
  2. Complete the online form to request official seed packets from the library. The library accepts only Weston Family Library official seed packets for the exchange. 
  3. Put the seeds into the official Weston Family seed packet you picked up from the library. 
  4. Complete the donation form. 
  5. Complete the label on the packet. NOTE: Please, put a maximum of 20 seeds in each packet. 
  6. Bring your labelled and sealed seed packets to Toronto Botanical Garden and drop them into the library’s return box located at the main doors.  
  7. They will be added to the exchange so that other people will be able to check them out next year. 

How to get seeds from the Seed Exchange  

[Not yet available. Watch for announcement in early Spring 2022] 

  1. Go to the Seed Exchange webpage, browse, and pick out the seeds you would like to grow. 
  2. Complete the online form. (Available in Spring 2022) 
  3. A confirmation email with details about the time and place where you can pick up the seed packets is sent to you.  
  4. Alternately, after consulting the list on the webpage, email, or phone the Weston Family Library to speak with staff and place your request.  
  5. Plant, grow and enjoy your harvest! Check out one of our many books or resources on gardening and growing. 
  6. Tell a friend! 

Some things to keep in mind 

  • Only save seed from healthy plants. 
  • Save from multiple plants to ensure genetic diversity. 
  • Do not donate seed from hybrid plants, or plants that may have cross-pollinated with other varieties. 
  • Several of our seeds have been saved by home gardeners, like you! There is always an element of chance with seed saving and gardening. Weston Family Library cannot guarantee the purity or germination rates of any seeds. If the seed you borrow fails to germinate or they do not grow true, please let us know.