Maybe you’ve recently bought a cottage with an attached plot, or maybe you just want to try growing something on your balcony or by the window—something to please the eye or perhaps even the stomach. Maybe you’re put off colorful, fake-looking packs of seeds in garden centers or DIY chains. Then you might be interested in a new seed bank project, Semínkovna.

If you’re tired of buying withered herbs in tiny pots from the supermarket and you dream of a home-grown pumpkin for a jack-o’-lantern or a pie or you’d simply like a flower box full of fiery marigolds, then you’re in the right place. For seeds of this sort, as well as hundreds of other plants and crops, you can stop by one of thirty seed banks scattered around the Czech Republic (the current list can be found HERE).

The first look will deceive

You probably wouldn’t expect it in a place like an out-of-the-way branch of the city library in a nursing home in a Beroun housing estate. And to the uninformed passerby it looks like your run-of-the-mill village library, but believe me, here you can find not only food for the soul but also garden supplies.

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Take a seed, leave a seed, so everyone can enjoy.

Not words, but actions

“I don’t even know how I heard about this project. Probably from a friend. I liked the idea, so I decided to make my own seed bank here, too,” says the modest Beroun librarian, Lucie Anýzová.

From conception, it was only a short step to realization. All she had to do was register on the seed bank website, think of a place for the seed boxes in the library, and then just collect and distribute seeds.

The principle of the project is simple. Anyone who has seeds available from their own garden can bring them to the seed bank. The librarian then puts them into handmade paper packets and labels them with the exact place and year of origin. So, for example, you can find gems such as ‘Brown string beans (Hranice, 2015)’, ‘Signet marigold, yellow (Trubská, 2015)’, or ‘Rainbow chard, 5 colors (Svatá, 2014)’.

Take more than you give—or vice versa?

Given that the seed bank in the Beroun library only started in May 2016, it still hasn’t been through the early spring planting season. “We started a bit after the season, but even so, a lot of people come visit and take an interest. They do, however, take more seeds than they give,” laughs the friendly librarian, who herself contributes to the seed bank quite actively.

The seed bank itself, a wooden desk with boxes made from the same material, looks quite simple. It’s divided into three parts according to the type of seeds—decorative plants, herbs, or crops. There is also a handbook available, which recommends the best methods for attaining your sought after success in the garden.

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Grow your own plants and bring in the extra seeds for others to use.

The Semínkovna initiative is new not only for Beroun but for the entire Czech Republic. It sprouted up here in 2015, modeled after the French project Les Grainotheques and the American The Seedbanks. The primary aim of the project is to support the free sharing of seeds, seed production, and natural gardening.

Try it yourself

Seed banks can take any form, from boxes and cartons to desks, cabinets or baskets, it only depends on the creativity of their founders. And absolutely anyone can start one—not just companies or institutions, but private individuals as well. The only condition is to offer seeds for free in small quantities for private use.

So where will you plant yours?

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Online magazine Starty.cz supports all those who have the courage to start their own plans and dreams.