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ATG Quirkies: How Public Libraries Are Seeding America’s Gardens

by | May 10, 2022 | 0 comments

How Public Libraries Are Seeding America’s Gardens is by Bridget Shirvell and it appears on the EATER website. This story was originally published on Civil Eats.

At the public library in Mystic, Connecticut, a card catalog that formerly stored book due dates now holds endless packets of seeds. There’s eggplant and kale, marigolds and zinnias; more than 90 different types of seeds available for anyone with a card to take home and plant.

“The library has become so much more than just a place to come in and get books,” said Leslie Weber, the youth services associate at the Mystic & Noank Library. “It’s becoming a community center, and the seed library fits right into that. It gets people outside, gets children involved with gardening, and we’re pushing to address food insecurity with it.”

The seed library in Mystic is just one of a number that have sprouted up around the country over the last decade — including in Georgia, California, Colorado, Arizona, and Maine — as libraries turn to seeds to help them meet the daily needs of the communities they serve in new ways. By offering patrons free seeds, the libraries can also combat hunger insecurity and biodiversity loss — all while building community resilience.“We love showing our patrons that it doesn’t have to be difficult to start their own gardens.”

“The American Library Association has added sustainability as a core value of librarianship,” said Jenny Rockwell of the Oakland Public Library’s (OPL) Asian Branch in Oakland, California. “Supporting a relationship with nature through gardening and stewarding seeds supports that intention.”

Seed sharing at public libraries date back to at least 2010, and while no one tracks just how such programs many there are across the, but it’s likely the number has now reached into the hundreds. Many started after the pandemic forced people outside and encouraged them to find ways to be more resilient, especially in how they procure food...”

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