AZ Daily Sun July 03, 2015 12:24 am • JACKEE ALSTON
When I walked into the small, public library in Brandon, VT, it only took me a moment to notice the quaint, 15-drawer card catalog with a hand-painted sign over it, “Seed Lending Library”. I fell in love with the idea as soon as I opened a drawer. A place for the community to borrow flower and vegetable seeds, grow them, and then return the seeds from that year’s harvest? Sold. In a town of 1,500 people, I knew if Brandon could support a seed library, so could Flagstaff and Coconino County. Today there are over 400 seed lending libraries cropping up all over the United States. These libraries offer seeds not only encapsulating the potential for families to feed themselves, but locally-proven seeds with a history of success—some as ancient as the first people to inhabit the area. This summer a seed library will open to the public at the University of Arizona Coconino County Cooperative Extension Office located on 2304 North 3rd Street. Dubbed Grow Flagstaff! Seed Lending Library, seeds will include flower and vegetable varieties adapted to grow in our climate conditions, as well as native seeds attractive to local gardeners.
What is a seed library and how does it work? A seed library is a storehouse of open-pollinated or heirloom seeds available to the community as a free - though priceless - service much like a book lending library. It is based on an easy membership form and relies on the return of next generation seeds from its patrons as well as donations from local gardeners and seed companies. By collecting and providing a pure source of seeds optimal for our local conditions and the knowledge on how to grow them, a seed library promises that people will have a better chance of becoming successful gardeners each year.
A seed library fosters a self-sufficient philosophy where seeds will be provided in order of difficulty level for growing and saving (easy, medium, and hard). Information about how to grow, harvest, and return the next generation of seeds to the seed library will be provided in pamphlets, through Coconino Master Gardener Association (CMGA) presentations, and a display next to the seed library. As we construct the library, anyone can offer help, but we are fortunate as a community to have a ready source of volunteers through the CMGA, the Flagstaff chapter of The Arizona Native Plant Society, the City of Flagstaff Sustainability Program, and Flagstaff Foodlink. To increase public outreach, we also intend to host a kick-off party for the community where anyone can learn about the seed library. Watch for this event towards the end of the summer.
It is our hope that this program will enhance community interest in gardening, healthy produce, and seed saving. Our excitement over this opportunity for our community hasn’t lessened since the first glimpse of a seed library in Brandon, VT. It’s something valuable not just to us, but for many generations to come. We know the gift encapsulated in a pure, tiny seed and can’t wait to share it with others.
For more information regarding the seed library, please contact Jackee Alston, Master Gardener (firstname.lastname@example.org; (928) 814-2280) or Hattie Braun, Master Gardener Program Coordinator (email@example.com; (928) 774-1868x170)