Seed library continues to grow

Photo submitted Many volunteers stepped up to help Delta County Libraries package and label seeds in 2015. At the Church of Art in Hotchkiss, tables were lined with seeds, labels and other materials to prepare thousands of seeds for checkout in the spring

With the first frost of the season, many gardeners throughout Delta County begin the process of putting garden beds to rest for the winter. The cycle of preparing soil, planting seeds, nurturing plants and reaping the harvest is a process that many Delta County residents relish, just as they relish the flavor of homegrown, quality food. Fall is the time of year to complete this cycle, and for many local gardeners, seed saving is an integral step in wrapping up the season.

Since the spring of 2013, Delta County Libraries has been helping people grow their gardens with the development of the seed library and the associated seed-saving programs. Hotchkiss librarian and avid gardener Sarah Pope has nurtured the program since its inception and is pleased with its continued growth. "As an avid gardener and seed-saving enthusiast, I was delighted to help start the seed library, and I am thrilled by its success. In 2013, we had over 1,200 seed packets check out and in 2014 we had over 1,500 checkouts in the first month alone," Pope stated. "We've been astounded by how many patrons have been checking out seeds and utilizing the seed library. Not only have more seeds been checking out, but more seeds have been coming in as donations as well." In the spring of 2015 there were over 2,000 seed packets available for checkout throughout Delta County.

Pope, also known by many as the "seed librarian," explains that the seed library and its related programming relies heavily on volunteers, especially this time of year when many seed donations are received. "Each seed packet is filled and labeled by hand, which amounts to a lot of love and labor going into each and every seed packet," Pope says. Although the program expanded to include seed checkouts in all five libraries in 2014, the seed-saving and packaging process has been coordinated entirely by Pope out of the Hotchkiss Library. That will be changing in 2016 with the addition of trained staff in each library to oversee the seed library and all related programming.

"The seed library is a great example of a successful pilot program that began in Hotchkiss and has now become a viable, countywide, program," LaDonna Gunn, assistant district director for Delta County Libraries, stated. "Providing training for staff in each location to manage the seeds and seed-related programs was the next logical step. Interested patrons in each community will have easier access to getting involved and benefiting from this very popular and unique program."

Looking to the future, Pope is confident that the seed library will continue to thrive, and she is encouraged by the prospect of more involvement countywide. "I want to continue and expand educational outreach and partnerships with local organizations. I hope to see the seed library become one of the many integral, sustainable resources available through Delta County Libraries."

To learn more about seed-saving and the seed library or to get involved in the process of packaging seeds in your community this fall, please contact your local library.

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