Seeds Library Café + serving local food and drink from a charmed perch

The for-profit division of the Boulder County Farmer’s Market slings local food from the Boulder Library main branch

By Tatyana Sharpton Feb 21 2020

Deep within the Boulder Public LIbrary’s main branch, near Arapahoe Ave. and 9th Ave., lies a hidden coffee + snack lounge. Those who do not frequent the library may not know it offers one of the city’s most tranquil spots to grab a cafe and a bite to eat.

Located in the library’s indoor glass corridor bridge that connects the library building to its north addition straddling Boulder Creek, Seeds Library Cafe buzzes daily with activity. With seating along the windows that open up over the rushing creek below, it’s a dazzling, sunlight-filled space that Seeds enhances with an array of locally sourced food.

The bridge becomes a living transit space by day, and Seeds the central hub. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

Founded in 2015, Seeds operates as a for-profit entity of parent nonprofit company Boulder County Farmers Market. The cafe gives the Farmers Market an outside-the-market platform to serve its fresh grown produce and meat — a brick-and-mortar bridge between farmers and Boulderites. The cafe in the library is Seeds’ only location.

Matt Collier

Matt Collier, who became general manager of Seeds Café soon after it opened, gave us the tea on the charming spot tucked within the library.

Seeds’s counter also features cookies from Denver Chip Co. and locally made Farm Charms necklaces whose packaging bears the message “Make a wish for food system change.” Image: Tatyana Sharpton.

Locally sourced goodness

Boulder is blessed with a robust farm community tucked in and around its city limits. Since inception, Seeds has aimed to harness this nearby abundance by sourcing crops from local (and near-loco) farms and create a stand-alone hub where locals can access home-grown fruits and veggies outside of the weekly farmers market.

“It’s easy to throw the phrase ‘farm-to-table’ because, ultimately, everything comes from a farm,” says Matt. Seeds lives it thanks to its deep connection with the farmer’s market and the local farmers who partner in it.

Matt, who helped create T/ACO’s original menu when it first opened in 2012 and served as head chef at The Kitchen Upstairs before it expanded, understands the importance local connections.

Most of its meat and many other items come from Buckner Family Farm in Longmont, its fruit comes from farms along the Western Slope and most of its veggies come from farms out on the eastern plains near Kersey, Colorado, just east of Greeley. Seeds has about a 100-mile radius footprint of farms it supports, including local Speedwell Farm & Gardens, Aspen Moon Farm and Cure Organic Farm.

Speedwell Farm & Gardens on small-scale ‘beyond organic’ urban farming in Boulder

Seeds Café drives its “local” point home by displaying a list of all the farms currently on its roster right in plain sight over the self-service station. The list changes constantly, depending on what’s in season in where Seeds finds it. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.
Popular favorites range from the ever-changing Farmer Vegetable soup to the Veggie Burger with its delicious beet coulis on homemade focaccia, picture above with their homefries. Image: Tatyana Sharpton

A growing vision

While Seeds Café bustles with customers everyday, it has struggled to gain visibility. A little out of the way, tucked in the library, and with no real signage outside, it can be easy to overlook or forget about when downtown and wanting a bite or a coffee with beans from Boulder roaster Silver Canyon Coffee.

Because Seeds’ central library location has relatively tight space limitations, it has a ceiling on the regular business it can do. It subsidizes this by hosting family dinners dubbed “Dinner on the Bridge” once a month to bring people in, changing the space into family style table seating and large, family-style portions for a set price. It also caters events and serves apps and wine at library art functions with the library’s arts liquor license.

The café also publishes a cookbook with recipes build from Boulder County Farmers Market ingredients, which they give out for free to participants of Boulder’s SNAP food assistance program or WIC (Women Infants and Children) who take advantage of the doubled-up farmers market produce option.

See you there — just don’t take my glass nook high top overlooking the river! 🙂

Header Image: GM and chef Matt Collier in front of Seeds Café’s counter. Image: Tatyana Sharpton.