By Stephanie Rogers
BIBLE HILL – What do seeds and books have in common? A library, of course.
The Dalhousie Agricultural Campus is set to launch Seeding Ideas, a seed lending library, on Monday.
“I grew up gardening,” explained Jolene Reid, the seed library’s co-ordinator. “My parents were back-to-nature sort of folks. We grew up with a strong value for soil and seeds…. this seed library is a great way to honour the memory of my dad in my day-to-day life.”
A seed library is based on the premise of providing access to a collection of non-hybrid, non-genetically modified seeds that can be “borrowed” by members of the community. Members grow the seeds and enjoy their harvest while letting a few plants return to seed. These new seeds are then returned to the library for the next growing season’s collection. Borrowers will have access to more than 80 varieties of edibles and ornamentals.
“Libraries are all about providing access,” said Reid. “With our seed lending library we are providing the community with a different kind of access: access to food security, access to fresh and healthy food, access to diverse varieties. It’s all about engaging the community in an innovative way through our library.”
Reid said the seed library is an interesting play on traditional library services, where those wishing to use the services will have a membership card to borrow the seeds.
“Typically we interrupt the growing process to eat the harvest, but if you let it go a little bit further, it will actually produce seeds,” said Reid, using lettuce as an example. “Lettuce will actually produce flowers and within those flowers are seeds. Through the seed library, we are hoping to support our growers through mentorships and workshops so people will recognize those seeding traits.”
There are more than 150 seed libraries across North America, however, Seeding Ideas is the first university-funded seed lending library in Canada, according to Reid.
The original collection of seeds for the library was purchased from Annapolis Seeds in Middleton, Hope Seeds in Granville Ferry, and Incredible Seeds in Lawrencetown.
“We’re excited to have this opportunity to bring together the expertise from the faculty of agriculture with our campus and local community in such a fun and unique way,” added Elaine MacInnis, head librarian at Dal AC’s MacRae Library. The library donated the initial funds for the seeds to begin the collection.
Seeding Ideas is supported by an advisory group, including teaching instructors and faculty members from the agricultural campus, as well as community members and students. The group includes faculty members Jeff Morton, grounds co-manager; Cory Roberts, waste management technician; Nancy McLean, Norman Goodyear and Tri Nguyen-Quang; community members Leslie Brann, Lyn McBryan, Dick Cotterill; alumnus Ronak Desai; students William Munroe and Jessica Compagnon; and library staff members Verna Mingo, Elaine MacInnis and Jolene Reid
“Gardeners are very good storytellers,” said Reid.
“We want to capture the stories behind the seeds and track their history as well,” she said, noting one of the seeds in the collection is a 1,000-year-old ornamental tobacco seed.
The collection will serve the community from early February until late June for borrowing, and then become active again during the autumn harvest for seed solicitation. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or ‘like’ Seeding Ideas on Facebook.
All are welcome at the official launch of Seeding Ideas on March 17 at 2 p.m. in the MacRae Library.