Seed Security Initiative and Seed Library

LCLT Seed Library Catalog & Seed Exchange Catalog

Seed Librarian Ken Akopiantz

Seed Librarian Ken Akopiantz

Ken Akopiantz, LCLT’s seed librarian, has published an updated Seed Library Catalog and Lopez’s own first Seed Exchange Catalog.

LCLT Seed Library Catalog

Seed Exchange Catalog

Remember that all seeds are free. Become a part of preserving the heirlooms of yesterday while breeding the heirlooms of tomorrow.

Interior of the Seed Library

Interior of the Seed Library

What is a Seed Library? Come to the Lopez Community Land Trust Seed Library and “borrow” seeds! You may be asking, “How can you ‘borrow’ seeds?” The basic is idea is that you plant the seeds, let some go to seed, then return some of these next generation seeds for others to borrow. (Don’t worry. We don’t have fines if you don’t return seeds.)

We encourage home gardeners to save seeds from the “easy” plants: beans, peas, lettuce, and tomatoes. Do not save seeds from plants in the “difficult” or “expert” drawer until you have more experience seed saving.

We ask that participants become an annual LCLT member (minimum $10/year), and attend an orientation of the facility either online or from a Seed Librarian. We provide free classes on seed saving, seed cleaning equipment, and access to many educational resources.

Our Mission: Lopez Community Land Trust Seed Library is a community seed project committed to increasing the capacity of our local food system by providing island appropriate open source seeds, while fostering community resilience, self-reliance and a culture of sharing.

Location: We’re located next to the Lopez Community Land Trust Office at the Common Ground housing complex at 25 Tuatara Road, Lopez Island, WA 98261

Exterior of the Seed Library

Exterior of the Seed Library

Hours: Monday- Friday 9-5. After attending an orientation or thoroughly reading our online orientation, you can come down any time the LCLT office is open and “borrow” seeds. Remember to “check out” seeds using the Membership Forms in the blue binder.

Support: We would like to thank all of the seed stewards on Lopez Island for sharing your seed, this is a priceless gift to your community and a vital step towards a more sustainable future; to David Zapalac for designing and building the LCLT Seed Library, it sure is cold, dark, and dry in there!; to the generous LCLT Members and Donors; and to Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library for providing so many resources to get our library going.  Thank you all!


Our Seed Garden: LCLT is currently creating a seed garden at Common Ground.

How to use the Seed Library

Orientation to the Library

Come visit the Seed Library for an orientation by one of our seed librarians, then come to the library to “borrow” seeds any time the LCLT office is open.  You can “borrow” seeds from any drawer, but when you first get started, only save seeds from the “easy” shelves. The idea is that people learn to save seeds and return some for others to use.

Don’t save seeds from the “difficult” shelves for the library until you have learned more about seed saving. Visit our Seed Saving Resources page for tips on how to save seeds so you can return seeds at the end of the season for others to borrow. We also offer free classes on seed saving, which will be listed on our home page. Thanks for being a member of our community seed library.

How to Borrow Seeds

  1. Fill out the Membership Form at the seed library.
  2. Using the Seed Stamp, stamp and fill out a separate envelope for each type of seed you plan to take.
  3. Put seeds in envelopes. Take 2-3 seeds fore every plant you intend to grow this season.

How to Donate/Return Seeds

  1. Read the LCLT brochure and learn how to properly save seed.
  2. Save quality seeds for yourself and the library.
  3. Bring the seed to the Seed Library and find a suitable glass jar to store seeds in.
  4. Fill in Seed Stamp. If you need more space for notes, there are additional notes stamps (Notes are very important, please be thorough so others know what they are growing).
  5. Tape Seed Stamp to jar well.
  6. Fill out/update the Membership Form and place seeds in Returned Seeds shelf/box of the proper family or group

Example Seed Stamp

Lopez Community Land Trust Seed Lending Library 
 Common name:  Tomato
 Scientific name:  Solanum lycopersicum
 Variety:  Brandywine
 Seed Source:  Cy Happy (Grower)
 Year & Location:  2009 Lopez Hill
 Isolation:  Garden (See chart)
 Notes:  Indeterminate, Beefsteak, Unbeatable flavor!
 Difficulty of saving seed:   ◊ Easy    ◊ Difficult

Thank you for saving seeds!

Please return some seeds at the end of the season to LCLT Seed Library,

25 Tuatara Rd., Lopez, WA 98261

Library Organization

The Seed Library is organized by plant family. Exceptions are the herbs, flowers, and native plants, which are lumped together. Each shelf is labeled “easy” or “difficult” based on the effort required to save the seed properly.

Seed Saving Protocol

When bringing seeds to share, read Seed Saving Protocol below to make sure we have a healthy and genetically diverse seed collection.

Need to find the scientific name?

The USDA has a search system that will help you find the current scientific name of different plants. Or look it up in the Seed Savers Exchange booklet or Seed to Seed, both available at the Seed Library.

What types of seeds should I save?

Seeds require different levels of work, experience and space to save. So what are the best seeds for you to save? We encourage people to start with what we’ve labeled as the “super easy” plants. We ask people who check out seeds to grow them organically for your benefit and the benefit of others.

Easy: Easy Peas-y

These seeds can most reliably be saved by the home gardener, even if you’ve never saved seeds before.

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Arugula
  • Dill

Difficult: You don’t always reap what you sow

Some plants are biennials, which means they produce seeds the second growing season. These are still suitable for some beginners. The issue is do you have the space! Many of these require large populations and isolation from things that could cross-pollinate with them. Check out the resources on our Seed Saving page.

  • Beets and chard
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers

Seed Saving Protocol

We want people who take seed to get what was on the label and we want to protect from passing on disease. The following is our basic protocol:*

  1. Save from healthy plants. Even if a disease does not get passed on through the seed, we do like to have some selection for disease resistance by only saving from healthy, strong plants.
  2. Save from a number of plants so that the seed has some genetic diversity in it. The quantity that is optimum depends on the type of plant, for self pollinating plants a minimum of 6 plants is necessary, for cross pollinating you want to save from much a larger population- see seed saving information sheets.
  3. If the plant cross-pollinates you want to make sure you keep it isolated so it stays “true to type.”
    Check with a seed saving chart or book to get isolation distances.
  4. When you bring seed to share at the Seed Lending Library please label with as much information as you can.
  5. We all save seed from a favorite that might not be from a number of plants or isn’t super healthy, or maybe we like some interesting crosses. You are welcome to bring those seeds just make sure you write that down on the label so others know they are participating in your experiment.

*The Seed Protocol is from the West County Community Seed Exchange, Sonoma Co., California.

Guidelines for Returning Seeds

  • Dry: Make sure seeds are dry.
  • Clean: Have seeds reasonably cleaned by removing as much of the chaff as possible.
  • Properly saved: Only return seeds from plants that you know how to save properly. “Easy” seeds can be fairly reliably saved without cross-pollination (and unintentional hybridization).  Some “easy” seeds include tomatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, arugula, and dill. Do not return seeds from the brassica (ex. broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage) or cucurbit (ex. cucumbers, squash, melons) families unless you have taken appropriate steps to prevent cross-pollination, such as hand pollinating.
  • Label! Label! Label! Write as much information on the packet as possible.  Remember that people only have what you have written on the package to decide if it is a plant that they would like to grow. More info is better.

Seed Saving Resources

Free Seed Saving Booklets

  • Adaptive Seeds has a great seed saving booklet you can download for free.
  • Seeds Trust, a company that specializes in seeds for high altitude gardens and the Southwest, has a fabulous free downloadable seed saving book.  You can also purchase a hard copy for $3. Very worthwhile! They offer a Seed School (now through Native Seeds/SEARCH) for a deeper learning opportunity.
  • Organic Seed Alliance has a free seed saving book that is downloadable.
  • Jack Rowes’ Seed Saving Booklet

How to Save Seeds


Recommended Books

  • Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth – very comprehensive, reference book
  • Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener’s and Farmer’s Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving by Carol Deppe (Check out her latest book, The Resilient Gardener)
  • The New Seed-Starters Handbook  by Nancy Bubel – great for beginners and more experienced gardeners
  • Saving Seeds As If Our Lives Depended On It by Dan Jason available at

History of Hybrids

Published in Seed Security Initiative, Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Development

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