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Sweet, Sweet Seed Libraries

Thu, 02/23/2023 - 10:14


One of our favorite things that libraries are doing these days as they expand their roles in their communities is providing flower, vegetable, and herb seeds, as well as the know-how to sow them. Starting about now, patrons can take packets with everything from beans to bee balm. Generally, library staff order large amounts of seed, then divide them into personal-size packets and put them out for the taking.

At the East Hampton Library, for example, a section of wall near the reference desk is floor-to-ceiling with shelves that soon will be filled with choices. Last year’s selection included Wautoma pickling cucumbers, Conservor shallots, and an eye-catching striped eggplant, Listada de Gandia. The Amagansett Library launched a program last year in partnership with Amber Waves Farm, Cornell Cooperative Extension, and a few home gardeners. Some of the seeds were donations from the Hudson Valley Seed Company and the Seed Savers Exchange, with an emphasis on organic, open-pollinated, and heirloom varieties. We can report from personal experience that the Hudson Valley seeds seem especially well suited to the growing conditions on eastern Long Island.

The libraries also offer live and online programs about seed-starting, planning a garden, and so on. An inducement for seasoned gardeners is saving and sharing seeds with others, which most of the seed libraries encourage, as long as they are open-pollinated and not of a patented, hybrid commercial variety.

As an idea for this season, we would suggest that the seed library stockists consider adding more native flowers and grasses with an emphasis on species important to pollinator insects and as food for wildlife. Marigolds from Mexico and Mediterranean marjoram are fine, but providing something good for the bug and bird locals would be important, too.



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