2018-03-17 / Features

Sharing seeds, not just books

PHOTOS AND STORY BY ANNA FLETCHER
COURIER-TIMES STAFF WRITER


The new seed library, located inside the Person County Public Library, organizes plant types, such as tomatoes and beans, into drawers. The drawers are then further categorized by plant variety, such as Brandywine tomatoes and Turkey Craw Pole beans. The new seed library, located inside the Person County Public Library, organizes plant types, such as tomatoes and beans, into drawers. The drawers are then further categorized by plant variety, such as Brandywine tomatoes and Turkey Craw Pole beans. Whether you’re an aspiring gardener hoping to test your green thumb this spring or a seasoned botanist with years of experience under your gardening belt, the Person County Public Library has an exciting opportunity to “Grow it in Person.”

On March 8, it unveiled the Person County Seed Library – a collection of open-pollinated, Southern heirloom seeds that are available to public library members to “check out” for free. It’s a way of distributing seeds to the community, says reference librarian Becky Schneider.

“Last year, the library started a teaching garden, and the seed library is really an extension of that,” she said at the March 8 event. “[It] allows us to share not just books, but local heirloom seeds. We want people to garden, and we want people to have access to diverse seeds.”

LOCAL SEEDS FOR THE LOCAL CLIMATE

In this modern age, Schneider says, people don’t have as much access to seeds as they did in the past.

“It used to be that everyone saved their own seeds,” she said. “You would have whatever your grandmother had, and you would just keep planting those seeds and saving the best ones. Now, we’re all buying from seed catalogues. And more and more people are buying hybrid seeds, which you can’t save.”

By offering Southern heirloom seeds, the seed library allows the community to have seeds that are right for the local climate, Schneider says.

“These are seeds that are actually from North Carolina that are suited to this climate and have been part of the food history and part of the culture,” she said. “We want people to be able to take home seeds, to grow them in their gardens, and to have food that’s fresh [and] from their backyard.”


Person County Cooperative Extension horticulture agent Johnny Coley brought a bucket of dirt to the event to demonstrate how to take a soil sample from a desired plot of ground. Person County Cooperative Extension horticulture agent Johnny Coley brought a bucket of dirt to the event to demonstrate how to take a soil sample from a desired plot of ground. She shared the variety that’s currently available at the seed library, including German Johnson tomatoes, Turkey Craw Pole beans, Moon and Stars watermelons, and Cockscomb and Spider flowers.

Schneider also gave a run-down of how the seed library will work. Participants simply visit the seed cabinet, located inside the public library; pull out a seed packet or two from the designated plant’s drawer; and take it to the front desk to be checked out. Experienced seed savers, she says, are invited to return their homegrown seeds to the library once they’ve harvested their bounty.


The seed packets come with instructions on planting, care and harvesting. The seed packets come with instructions on planting, care and harvesting. .A GOOD EXCUSE TO STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES'

Horticulture agent Johnny Coley from the Person County Cooperative Extension office also attended the event to give a crash-course on gardening – personalized for the local climate. He went through the steps of preparing and maintaining a garden, which include determining the type of soil you have by sending samples to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to be tested, what time of year to plant certain crops, appropriate fertilizers, pest and disease management and water recommendations.

Perhaps the most important thing about home gardening, he says, is monitoring the plants, which he called “scouting.”


Person County Public Library reference librarian Becky Schneider shows attendees of the March 8 event how to use the seed library’s filing and check-out system. Person County Public Library reference librarian Becky Schneider shows attendees of the March 8 event how to use the seed library’s filing and check-out system. “We want to look at our plants daily, maybe twice a day,” he said. “Get out there and scout daily so you can catch things. It’s better to catch them early. I read an article recently; it said, ‘It gives you a good excuse to stop and smell the roses.’”

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