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Library begins lending seeds

These veggies were grown in Duluth, all of which are part of the seed library bank. These include beans, tomatoes, peas and peppers, though not the squash. (Submitted photo)1 / 2
Jahn Hibbs executive director Duluth Community Garden Program (left) and Rheanna Letsos (right) hold beans seeds (part of the seed library). (submitted photo)2 / 2

Starting next week, you might find yourself heading to the library to borrow something new — seeds for your garden.

The Duluth Seed Library will host a grand opening in the Main Library Green Room on Saturday at 1 p.m., where community members will have the first opportunity to sign up for the Duluth Seed Library and borrow pea, bean, tomato and bean seeds.The grand opening includes “2014 Vegetable of the Year” bean dishes for tasting, prepared by local chef Arlene Coco Buscombe. Coco Buscombe, a New Orleans transplant to the Northland, has been enticing palates for years with her unique culinary style. As well, the Duluth Community Garden Program and several area Master Gardeners will be available to provide gardening advice and information. If the Budgeteer doesn’t reach you in time to

attend the grand opening, fear not, seeds will be available to check out at other times.

“What’s great about the seed library is that it provides a means for every citizen to access seeds and fresh produce,” said Jamie Harvie of the Institute for a Sustainable Future.

Here’s how it works — in the spring, people can check out seed packets and plant them in their gardens. Over the spring and summer, the plants — with proper care — will grow and provide fresh fruits and vegetables. Then, at the end of the growing season, seed borrowers will save a portion of the seeds for themselves and return a portion back to the Duluth Seed Library.

The borrowers have up to nine months from check out to return the seeds. If the seeds are not returned within the time, the library will send out a friendly reminder, but other than that, no other request, fine or penalty will be issued.

After the seeds are returned to the library, they will be repacked by volunteers and be ready for another season of gardening come spring time. This process of replenishing the library with seeds from successfully grown plants is very important because it will develop a regionally-adapted seed stock, which will create better growing plants.

If you aren’t sure how green your thumb is, don’t worry, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn and help your knowledge grow. According to Master Gardener Kelly Erb, later this spring the St. Louis County Master Gardeners will be holding seed starting and seed saving classes.The Master Gardeners is a research-based extension from the University of Minnesota created to provide information to the citizens of St. Louis County about gardening. Participants also will have access to books and handouts to guide them in caring for the plants, provided by the DCGP and the Master Gardener Program.

“I’m excited for all Duluthians to have community ownership over the system. It’s not just one person controlling it, it’s everyone working together,” Erb said.

The Duluth Seed Library is supported by a committee of community volunteers from several community organizations, including the Duluth Public Library, Institute for a Sustainable Future (ISF), the St. Louis County Extension Master Gardeners and the Duluth Community Garden Program (DCGP). It also is supported by the Lake Superior Good Food Charter and was endorsed unanimously by the City of Duluth City Council in August of 2012.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176