The Downers Legacy

Seed Library




Heirloom Seeds: Family Treasures Worth Passing Down



It's been almost five years since we first opened our doors AND our "drawers" currently at the Downers Grove Public Library.


Of course I'm talking about the drawers of the old-fashioned card catalog upstairs in the library in which we are storing hundreds of open pollinated heirloom seeds. What is different about these varieties of seeds?  Most importantly, they are quickly vanishing forever!!  There was a time around 1900 when the diversity of these seeds, mostly brought to America by millions of immigrants, was in its glory. Garden catalogs were bursting with many dozens of distinctly different kinds of vegetables such as cabbage, corn, cucumber or carrot! Gardeners had an almost endless choice of food crops to try. 

However, since that time, different cultural, mechanical, meteorological and societal changes have come to bear on our seed choices and 95% of these glorious seeds have gone extinct. These open pollinated beauties are what a seed was intended to be: the most powerful living thing on Earth!!! These heirloom seeds can make an exact copy of themselves every time they reproduce, which represents our future breeding capabilities if we need to adapt to hotter and drier conditions.

Please join us as we grow out these seeds each year to increase the quantities and secure them for our future. We will teach you how.

The concept is simple: Learn from us how to save seeds, then borrow some,


grow them out, save seeds from a few plants and then return the number of


seeds you borrowed!  American families used to save their seeds and


occasionally swap seeds with their community.  Let's rediscover their lost


tradition together.  






Vicki Nowicki





Seed Packaging
Date to be determined

Join us on a Sunday in 2020 for a few snacks and to help us package seeds.

Inciardi Paste Tomato

A member of John Inciardi's family who lives in Texas, contacted Vicki when she saw an article about "Inciardi Tomatoes" in a magazine. She said "Would you like some family pictures?" We said of course! The Inciardi Paste Tomato is just one of the many heirloom varieties available in our seed library.

How Can I Volunteer?


We are always in need of extra help! Stuffing seed packets, helping maintain inventory, and assisting at events - there's always plenty to do. Sound like something you'd like to help with? Click the link above to find out more.

Where is the Downers Legacy Seed Library located?


We are currently located in the Downers Grove Public Library.  Our seed catalog can be found on the second floor.  Seeds are currently available to existing members and new members.

The Downers Legacy Seed Library.


Logo By Edie Emmenegger and Cathy Pawlowski

Photos by David Cavagnaro