Things are getting pretty seedy at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library: on March 16 at 10 a.m. the facility’s seed library will be launched.
“This is something we’ve been thinking about for a few years,” says library manager Laura Tait. She says it’s not uncommon for libraries to share seeds now.
The library applied to the Niagara Community Foundation — a local organization that shares philanthropy with community projects — for “seed” money. The $500 it was given funded the purchase of more than 70 varieties of heirloom seeds from Heritage Harvest, a Canadian company specializing in open-pollinated, non-hybrid, non-GMO, natural seeds.
Five volunteers helped to repackage the seeds into smaller amounts, and wanted to do more — so one took on the job of growing 100 tomato seedlings, which the library will give away on Victoria Day weekend. Another volunteer is making boxes to hold and display the seed packets.
“I know nothing about gardening,” says Tait with a laugh. “That’s why Carole is helping with this.” Carole Butlin, a library service associate, is known for sharing the delicious bounty from her own garden, says Tait.
They researched seed libraries online and by visiting the Grimsby public library, where they’ve been at this for a few years. “We saw how simple it was,” says Tait.
The launch will feature speaker and farmer Linda Crago, of Tree and Twig Heirloom Vegetable Farm. Crago is a respected pioneer in the local agricultural world, one of the first growers to focus entirely on heirloom seeds. She will be speaking at 10 a.m. for approximately an hour on the topics of open-pollinated varieties as well as seed-saving — the practice of collecting seeds from your plants and using them to grow more in the next season. Also allowing you the opportunity to return your “borrowed” seeds to the library.
Because, while seeds are free for the taking, and there is no limit (although there are tabs on takers), “the idea is you give back as much as you take, ultimately,” explains Tait.
All are welcome to hear Crago’s presentation on Saturday, but registering in advance is wise, so enough seats can be prepared. Early this week, there were already 40 keeners signed up, to Tait’s amazement.
The library is adding a comprehensive and very useful section of related information to their website, also to be launched Saturday. It’s also beefing up its “growing” library, with plenty of books to help beginners to experts improve their gardening skills.
In partnership with the NOTL Horticultural Society, the library will also be offering seedy activities for kids in April and May, including a make-and-take mini garden, and the planting of a “pizza garden,” featuring tomatoes, peppers, onions and herbs, at the back of the library.
Should you wish to donate heritage/open-pollinated seeds to the library, simply give them to anyone behind the main desk.
As said the wise Cicero, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”