A shovel in one hand, Starr Brainard stood next to a bright yellow wooden box. In bright red paint: “Free seed library.”

Brainard announced the creation of free seed libraries at four Duluth locations on Instagram this week. The post had more than 230 likes with comments such as “So needed,” “Hell yeah” and “This is a great idea.”

The land stewardship coordinator for the Duluth Community Garden Program created these in the vein of little free libraries. She donated materials and seed from her business Saltless Sea Farm and set them up at Hannah House, 1701 Jefferson St.; 2001 W. 4th St.; 4441 Grand Ave.; and 28 Riverside Dr.

Packets sit in a free seed library set up by the Duluth Community Garden Program. People are asked to take only one of each kind. (Submitted photo)
Packets sit in a free seed library set up by the Duluth Community Garden Program. People are asked to take only one of each kind. (Submitted photo)

Brainard received seeds from the library, some from the community garden program, some seed companies, some donations — for broccoli, carrot, beets, turnips, rutabagas, tomato and squash.

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Supplies have been going really fast, and some have already gone.

“The biggest challenge is restocking them. If we want to do a second round and keep getting seeds to people, we need donations,” she said.

She plans to try keeping them stocked through the beginning of the gardening season.

Now is the most important time to be gardening, she said: “We’ve been shown how precarious our food system is with grocery stores running out of (items).”

The Duluth Community Garden program is figuring out procedures to keep people safe this season. It's aiming for money to buy sanitation products to wipe down gates and hand-washing stations at larger gardens. Organizers also have plans to move their workshops online. But accessibility also is an issue.

Boxes for free seed libraries sit freshly painted and awaiting further assembly by the Duluth Community Garden Program. (Submitted photo)
Boxes for free seed libraries sit freshly painted and awaiting further assembly by the Duluth Community Garden Program. (Submitted photo)

“Zoom worldwide is very, very helpful. If you’re outside that generation or you don’t have a computer at home, or rely on the library, you’re at a loss,” Brainard said.

Brainard said she is pleased the free seed libraries turned out durable, eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing, even though she doesn’t have time to paint little flowers on all of them.

In them, she added a “quick and dirty” educational piece on gardening for our climate.

“Gardening is not canceled,” she said.

  • For people visiting the library, please take one of each variety, and touch only what you will take.
  • To support this effort, if you know a company or work for someone who has year-old seeds they can’t sell, email garden@duluthcommunitygarden.org. Or if you're a family with extra seed packets, put them in the library for someone else.

Free seed libraries like this one near Denfeld High School have sprouted up around Duluth. It’s the effort of Starr Brainard, of the Duluth Community Garden Program. Located in Denfeld, near Lincoln Park, Riverside and the Hanna House, they’re stocked with a big range of broccoli, carrot, beets, sorghum. Seeds were donated by the DCGP, the Duluth’s Public Library’s seed collection and Brainard’s Saltless Sea Farm. (contributed photo)
Free seed libraries like this one near Denfeld High School have sprouted up around Duluth. It’s the effort of Starr Brainard, of the Duluth Community Garden Program. Located in Denfeld, near Lincoln Park, Riverside and the Hanna House, they’re stocked with a big range of broccoli, carrot, beets, sorghum. Seeds were donated by the DCGP, the Duluth’s Public Library’s seed collection and Brainard’s Saltless Sea Farm. (contributed photo)

Free seed library locations

  • Hannah House, 1701 Jefferson St.
  • Emerald Community Garden, 2001 W. 4th St.
  • Denfeld, 4441 Grand Ave.
  • Riverside, 28 Riverside Dr.

For more information, email garden@duluthcommunitygarden.org.