The “Eau Claire Grows” community seed library began its third year of operation on Saturday (Apr. 1) at the L. E. Phillips Memorial Public Library.
The project, launched in 2015, enables residents to “borrow” seeds at the start of the growing season and replace them with new ones at the season’s end. Packets of 16 varieties of seeds will be available throughout the growing season at Library’s Information & Reference desk.
The basic concept is to plant the seeds, let some plants go to seed, and then return a portion of the next-generation seeds for others to borrow, according to a Library press release. While returning seeds at the end of the growing season is highly encouraged, it is not required.
“We only had a handful of seed packets returned last year,” said programming librarian Isa Small, “but over 200 households checked out nearly 1,300 packets of seeds. That is a lot of locally grown, nutritious food being put on the table, so we consider it a success.”
In its first year, the seed library provided seeds that are fun to grow and easy for beginners to save. Last year, it added cucumber and carrot seeds, which require more advanced seed-saving techniques.
In 2017, the seed library will offer the following seeds: arugula, basil, beans, carrots, catnip, chives, cilantro, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, morning glories, peas, peppers, spinach, sunflowers and tomatoes.
Community members may borrow one packet of each variety per household. A library card is not required to borrow seeds.
However, Small said, “We hope folks will use their library card to check out our great selection of books and e-books on garden planning and seed saving, as well as vegetable cookbooks.”
The program is funded in part by a donation from Mayo Clinic Health System.