LIVINGSTON, Mont. — You could say that seed libraries are sprouting up all over.
And the Livingston-Park County Public Library has joined this blossoming trend.
Outreach Services Librarian Suzanne “Suzi” Catharine spearheaded the project to introduce a lending library of seeds in the library.
Seed libraries have been formed all over the world, some in actual public libraries, some not. There are two other public libraries in Montana that offer seeds — Butte-Silver Bow and the Missoula Public Libraries. And libraries in Great Falls and Whitefish hope to be online soon, according to Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance website.
The idea, Catharine said, is that people grow fruits and vegetables and then save and share the seeds of the plants that did well.
“The goal is to have a collection of locally adapted seeds,” Catharine said Friday. “You get that from harvesting the seeds that perform best in our environment — plants that grow faster or produce more.”
The local seeds encourage people to grow their own food and promotes local food production, biodiversity and community resiliency, according to the Five Valleys Seed Library at the Missoula Public Library.
Since this is the Livingston seed library’s first year, there obviously aren’t any local seeds to share yet. Catharine has overcome this obstacle by starting out the seed library with commercial seeds donated by Burpees and the locally owned Woods Rose Market, as well as buying seeds.
Library cardholders may check out seed packets, just like checking out a book or other library materials, but with one difference — the seeds will not need to be returned, Catharine said, and there won’t be any overdue notices.
The seed packets are barcoded and have been entered into the library’s database and will be tracked. Library Director Mitch Grady will be able to see reports on how many seed packets were checked out and which types of seeds were most popular, Catharine said.
The seeds are located on the library’s main floor in a brightly colored green cabinet not far from the main desk.
And, Grady said, a selection of the seeds could be distributed on the library’s bookmobile, which he hopes to have on site and in operation by summer.
Sharing local seeds will begin in 2019, but the likelihood of cross-pollination between plant varieties can produce hybridized seeds. Hybridized seeds take traits from both plants, which could be good or not so good.
“You might get a great plant or you might get a dud,” Catharine said.
So to help educate would-be seed sharers, the library will host free seminars on the science and technique of seed collection, Catharine explains in a free flier.
The library is also working on establishing a lending library of tools, which means when the library is ready to start lending tools, a library user could check out some seeds and the hand tools, such as a shovel or trowel, needed to plant them.
The seed library could use some donations of commercially grown seeds, especially plants that do well in Park County’s environment, and some volunteers who can help repackage and label the seed envelopes.
Checking out nontraditional library materials keeps libraries relevant in their communities, Catharine said.
“It’s not just about books anymore,” she said.
Information from: Livingston Enterprise, http://www.livingstonenterprise.com