Seeds from genetically modified organisms (GMO) that are patented are illegal to harvest and replant. Additionally, many GMO seeds are engineered with a “terminator” gene so that saved seeds are not viable. This is why your library only offers only non-GMO heirloom and open pollinated seeds for check out. For these reasons, it is critical that the seeds you save and return to us are not cross pollinated with any GMO crops.
Open-pollination occurs by insect, bird, wind, humans, or other natural mechanisms. Because there are no restrictions on the flow of pollen between individuals, open-pollinated plants are more genetically diverse. This causes a greater amount of variation within plant populations, which allows plants to slowly adapt to local growing conditions and climate. As long as pollen is not shared between different varieties within the same species, then the seed produced will remain true-to-type year after year.
An heirloom is a plant that has a history of being passed down within a family or community. Heirloom varieties are open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms.
Any seed produced by hybrid plants cannot be saved for use in following years because they are genetically unstable. The plants will be less vigorous and not true-to-type.
Are they organic?
More than 90% of the seeds available from your library are USDA certified organic. However, some varieties come from different companies and are a mix of organic and non-certified organic. And although we encourage patrons to use organic methods to raise their crops, we cannot guarantee seeds that are returned to the library are raised organically. For these reasons, we do not label any seeds as organic, even though the vast majority of them are certified organic.