Learn to grow your own vegetables, flowers and herbs
In an increasingly digital world where information is literally at our fingertips, having a county library within walking distance is sometimes undervalued.
Libraries are portals to unlimited knowledge about any given subject, and while smartphones may serve the same purpose, the experience is unmatched.
Libraries offer services, mostly free of charge, including checking out books, DVDs and CDs, use of shared computers and fax machines, unlimited education, and the list goes on and on. And now, for the third year through the Garland County Library’s Garland County Grows program, patrons have the ability to plant and harvest their own herbs, vegetables and flowers.
“The idea (of a seed sharing program) had been floating around for several years and we were just not ready to take it on,” said Tiffany Hough, the library’s youth services director. “About three and a half years ago we finally thought ‘maybe we’re ready.’”
“One of us put it in as a budget suggestion and John Wells, library director, said to run with it,” said Adam Webb, the library’s assistant director. “We put together a committee of people — a couple of farmers on the staff, one of our supervisors runs a farm, and one of our part-time clerks is a full-time farmer and part-time library clerk so we got them on and a couple others that were interested.”
Using their library card, patrons can check out up to 10 packets of seeds every four months from the seed library.
“They’re not full packets of seeds — we’re not trying to compete with Lowe’s or the Farm and Tractor Supply. It’s a small amount just so you can try it out. We get heirloom and open-pollinated seed varieties, really obscure ones a lot of times, too, so you can try something like purple carrots with very little risk,” Webb said.
The library has 150 different varieties in its seed catalog. All of the seeds purchased by the library are purchased from Baker Creek Heirloom Co.
“The rest of that process would be to take your seeds, plant them, grow your wonderful plants, enjoy your harvest and, from one of your best plants, you save some seeds at the end of the cycle and then, ideally, bring those seeds back to us and we would add those back into the collection so that we slowly build a locally adapted collection of seeds,” Hough said. “I would say we’ve had more success this year with people bringing seeds back to us. We provide a lot of educational information in the form of Master Gardener workshops, books that you can check out, and websites that we can recommend so people know how to do it.”
Webb said that of the 5,000 seeds that they’ve processed since the program began, more than 3,000 have been checked out by library patrons.
“We also have kind of a ‘take a penny, leave a penny’ honor system; a lot
of people bring us seeds and we don’t know the providence of them so we can’t really say if they’re open-pollinated or heirloom or if they’re hybrids, so we set
those aside in small packets and you can take one or leave one.”
Anyone can donate seeds to the program; no library card is required. Donors should fill out a donation form and, if filled out in its entirety and if the origin of the seed is known, they will be added into the circulation collection.
A whole committee of library employees exists to keep the seed program up and running, and Hough said this year each member of the committee is going to try to grow a particular crop so they can donate seeds into the library.
“We’re so lucky to have amazing people on the staff,” she added. “It’s very fun to save seeds and harvest them. It’s almost magical.”
A full list of seeds is available at the Garland County Library, 1427 Malvern Ave.