Earlier this year, I wrote up a post for Mother Earth News about seed libraries. One point I made was that the only way a seed library will survive and thrive is for people to give back. Well, now’s the time for action.
My seed library experience
For example, my neighborhood seed library, the Seed Library of the Kent (Ohio) Free Library) just sent out a request for gardeners to bring in collected seeds.
Here’s a few of their reminders:
We collect vegetable, herb, or flower seeds.
If you had a successful crop using seeds from the Seed Library, we’d like you to bring back at least twice as much seed as you “borrowed.”
Donated seeds don’t have to be from plants you grew from Seed Library seeds! Anything you’d like to donate helps grow the collection.
Review seed saving guidelines to be sure that your seeds will be viable and “true”–for instance, double check whether plants needed to be grown a certain distance away from other varieties in the same family or whether seeds can be harvested from the plant the first year, or are biennial and need to overwinter.
Save and dry your seeds according to recommended practices.
Bring your seeds to the library in a clear plastic bag and be sure to completely fill out a donation form.
Unfortunately for me, my checked out seeds didn’t fair well. I borrowed 4 varieties of beans, yet none survived. Between our drought and hungry rabbits, no beans were produced. I do have other seeds though, including the pictured Jacobs Cattle beans. Turnips, tomatoes, and peppers will round out my donations.
The most important idea to remember about seeds is they are an abundant resource when saved. Our consumer society wants you to believe seeds must purchase them from giant organizations hundreds of miles away. Truth is, one tomato or turnip plant can produce literally thousands of seeds. As a seed saver, you will have so many you won’t know what to do with them all. Why not give some back to the community?
The Snarky Gardener was interviewed on the Urban Farm podcast. Listen to him talk about Snarky Acres and his projects.
I had the privilege of being interviewed on the Urban Farm podcast. We discussed my beginnings as a gardener, why I grow food, my favorite book, and my current project (writing my first book “The Snarky Gardener’s Veggie Growing Guide for Ohio and Beyond”). So it was pretty much all about me, someone I know a great deal about. I didn’t mention the Snarky Girlfriend and haven’t heard the end of it by far. There will be other podcasts in my future, so maybe I’ll remember to talk about her then.
It took me a week, but I finally got up the nerve to listen to my own interview. I obviously was there for the recording, but wasn’t sure how my voice would sound. You can tell I was a little nervous at the beginning but really came on strong by the end. It’s easy to talk about something I’m so passionate about. As you can tell by this blog, growing food is very important to me.
What I really like about urbanfarm.org is that they consider anyone who grows food and gives or sells it to others is a farmer. This definition probably expands the number of farmers in the world tenfold. We can all contribute to the local food supply even with a “simple” garden. Those overwhelming zucchinis people complain about every summer? Perfect for donating to those who don’t have enough food. Then you too will be a farmer.
The Kent (Ohio) Free Library is starting a seed library and the Snarky Gardener is helping out!
As the founder of Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns, I’ve been giving gardening talks at our local library – the Kent Free Library. My last presentation covered seed saving including the why’s and how to’s of saving seeds from one’s garden. I used several of my previous blog posts to develop my content, including tomatoes, peppers, mustard/kale/turnips, and beans, as I’m nothing if not lazy. For me, seed saving is a very important cause as it’s one of our most basic rights as human beings. Seeds have been saved and exchanged by individuals for thousands of years (no, they haven’t always been sold at big box stores or online). Seeds saved from your garden have been selected just by the very fact they survived and thrived at your location with your soil and environment. Add choosing the best specimens year after year (for taste or drought tolerance or color), and it turns the backyard gardener into a local plant breeder. Pretty cool and powerful stuff if you think about it.
Over this summer, the Snarky Girlfriend and I have been working with the KFL to start up a seed library. In a nutshell, a seed library is a central location for seed storage that allows community members to “check out” seeds. These usually come from donations, either from professional seed companies (like Johnny’s Selected Seeds), seed non-profits (like Seed Savers Exchange or the Cleveland Seed Bank), or preferably local amateur seed savers. Borrowers are encouraged (but not required) to return twice as much seed as they borrow, thus increasing the seed library’s inventory. Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns (KOFNL) has made a commitment to assist the library in maintaining the Seed Library and offering advice to gardeners who plan to save donated seeds. We held several seed repackaging parties this year to help KOFNL break down donated seed into business card size packets for distribution during our presentation events. I got the idea of seed packaging parties from my time spent with the Akron Seed Library earlier this year. The Seed Library of the Kent Free Library currently has a call out for seed donations and we should start organizing some repackaging parties this fall and winter. If you have donations (especially ones saved from your own garden) or want to participate in our “parties”, please send me an email at email@example.com.
The Snarky Gardener (of Kent Ohio Food Not Lawns) will be presenting “Easy Lazy Food Gardening” at the Kent Free Library on April 22nd at 7 PM.
The Kent Free Library begins a series of monthly programs focusing on backyard gardening with a presentation by Don Abbott of Kent Food Not Lawns on Wednesday, April 22 at 7:00 pm.
Abbott, a gardener, educator, and blogger, says that the biggest complaint most people have about gardening is that it’s too much work. He will suggest useful strategies you can start using this summer to have a productive food garden without all the hassle year after year.
All participants will receive free seed packets. Please contact the Information Desk at 330.673.4414 to register. Visit Upcoming Events for information about future gardening programs.
Registration is requested and is underway. Please visit or contact the Information Desk (330.673.4414) to register.