seed packets
Image by Sandy Repp

A variety of still viable vegetable and flower seeds are available in our free seed cabinets!

Free Seed Cabinets

Each year, staff in our Home Horticulture program write to various seed companies to request donations of seeds that are leftover from the previous year, but still viable. CCE-Tompkins receives many generous seed donations in response to this appeal (including many organic seeds) from vendors that have included Ithaca Agway, Seed Savers Exchange, Fruition Seeds, High Mowing Seeds, Burpee, Heirloom Seeds, Seed Saver Exchange, Select Seeds,, and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, for example. There is a cabinet for flowers, and another cabinet for vegetables and herbs.

How It Works

Seed packets are organized in 2 cabinets, one for flowers, another for vegetables and herbs. Everyone is welcome to come and take some seeds for free, but to keep the system fair, we've had to put these GUIDELINES into place which seed-takers must follow:


So that we can track the success of the free seed program, we ask those taking seeds to write down their name, email and number of seeds they have taken. Seeds generally are available starting in late January until the supply is gone.

We ALSO invite gardeners to contribute accurately identified and dated seed (date of seed collection) to the Seed Cabinet for others to share. We have small envelopes here, or you may use your own, but be sure to put the year of seed collection on the envelope, as well as the name of the plant and leave them with the staff at our Growline. 

The Seed Cabinets are located in our Agriculture/Environment office and may be visited weekdays from 8:30am-3:30pm. Tompkins County Cornell Cooperative Extension is located at 615 Willow Avenue in Ithaca (Dey Street exit from Route 13).

Seed Saving Resources

CCE-Tompkins maintains a seed library in the Agriculture-Environment office. Free seeds are available for gardeners, along with information on how to save your own seeds, some of which can be returned to the seed library the following year for other gardeners. For more information on saving seeds and a list of organizations that promote seed saving, seed production and plant breeding, visit Cornell University's resource page on all things seedy!


Jennie Cramer
Horticulture Program Manager
(607) 272-2292 ext 146

Last updated July 26, 2019