Urbandale Public Library/The Donna Kessler Seed Library

“Our mission is to reclaim seeds as a public resource by providing a venue for community seed sharing and agriculture education. By accepting seed donations and offering free seeds to patrons, our community will help sustain and preserve our native environment and will increase the ability to cultivate healthy, local food systems.”

How it works

Step 1: Browse

Look through our list of available seeds at the Reference Desk.

Step 2: Check out

A staff member at the Reference Desk will retrieve the seeds you select and check them out to you. All Urbandale library cardholders may check out up to six packets of seeds per year on a first-come, first-served basis.

Step 3: Grow

Plant your seeds! Our “Gardening Resource Guide” includes print and online resources that can help set you up for gardening success. (The Library cannot guarantee viability as the seeds have not undergone a germination test.)

Step 4: Share

If you have grown plants from the seeds that you checked out and they have successfully produced seeds, please return your harvested seeds to the Urbandale Public Library.* We will repackage your harvested seeds and put them into circulation so that others may try their hand at growing!

*In accordance with Iowa Code, Chapter 199, the library has been granted a seed permit, effective 2/2022. Further, seeds treated with pesticides cannot be accepted by the UPL seed library.


Why a seed library?

Humans have been saving seeds for thousands of years. Much of that knowledge has been lost, along with significant biodiversity. When you grow and save seeds, you develop seed stock that is well suited to our climate. Plus, it saves money! When you participate in a seed library, you create a culture of sharing and abundance.

Why native plants?

  • Ecosystem restoration: By planting native, you are restoring ecosystems that might otherwise be lost.
  • Clean air: Even small plantings can filter the air around your home, and large plantings can mitigate climate change.
  • Clean water: The deep root systems of most native plants filter out excess nutrients and pollutants, improving water quality.
  • Healthy soil: Native plants prevent soil erosion, create topsoil, and build fertility.
  • Prevent invasive species: By choosing natives, you can help prevent further habitat loss to invasive species.
  • Resource conservation: Native plants can save time and money because they require little or no irrigation, fertilizer, pruning, or mowing.

A special thanks to our sponsors:

Estate of Donna Kessler – Special funding is provided by the Estate of Donna Louise Kessler, a life-long resident of Urbandale and flower gardener. Donna’s generous donation supports the ongoing operations and special projects of the Seed Library.

Hudson Valley Seed Company is committed to growing organically, sourcing locally and sustainably, and preserving crop diversity by selecting unique, rare, and hard-to-find varieties. One of the first companies to sign the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI). For more information, visit their website: HudsonVallerySeed.com

Nine Square Feet Logo

Nine Square Feet – An assortment of vegetable seeds and herbs were donated by Nine Square Feet, a local non profit with the mission to build a dynamic network of home gardeners who share seeds, plants, and food in Des Moines and Central Iowa with the goal of ending hunger, providing access to healthy food to our most vulnerable, and to build a more connected community. For more information, visit their Facebook: www.facebook.com/ninesquarefeet or send questions via email: ninesquarefeet.dsm@gmail.com

Prairie Moon Nursery Logo shows a purple flowers in front of a moon

Prairie Moon Nursery – Most of our seeds were generously donated by Prairie Moon Nursery. Prairie Moon was founded in 1982, and they supply over 700 North American seeds to national parks, local municipalities, and backyard gardeners. They believe that restoring native plants to the landscape is an essential part of being a good steward. For more information, visit their website: PrairieMoon.com

Seed Savers Exchange – Since 1975, Seed Savers Exchange has protected the biodiversity of our food system—and our planet—by preserving rare, heirloom, and open-pollinated varieties of seeds in our seed bank at Heritage Farm and encouraging gardeners and farmers worldwide to grow, harvest, and share heirloom seeds as well as recount the inspirational stories behind them. For more information, visit their website: www.seedsavers.org.

Continue on to page 2 for Gardening Resource Guide