While Berkeley's Ecology Center also houses a year-round seed-lending program (the Bay Area Seed Interchange Library), an exciting new embodiment of this excellent idea is the Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, whose seeds the public can "borrow" for free — in hopes that borrowers will also donate seeds later. Richmond Grows opened inside Richmond's main library on May 5 of this year, and it's open to "residents of the greater Richmond area" at no charge. Its web site offers a convenient online orientation video, and all participants need to do to get started is to fill out a membership form. Then seeds can be brought or taken at will, as long as they are labeled carefully so that future "borrowers" will know exactly what they're getting. Labels must give the plant's common and scientific names, its variety, the former grower's name, the location of the garden from which these seeds were harvested, the year in which they were harvested, the difficulty of the seed to be grown and "saved" (that is, kept from cross-breeding with other varieties), and useful hints and tidbits such as the final product's flavor or special needs.
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