Seed Library blossoms at Berthoud Library

By Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer
The Surveyor

Today’s library has become much more than a place to check out books. It’s a community gathering spot, a creative hub, and now a depository for seeds. A new Seed Library is being created at the Berthoud Community Library, so this summer, along with that best seller, you can also check out some local vegetable seeds for your garden.

According to Wikipedia, a “seed library” is an institution that lends or shares seed. It is distinguished from a seedbank in that the main purpose is not to store or hold seeds against possible destruction, but to disseminate them to the public which preserves the shared plant varieties through propagation and further sharing of seeds.

“Seeds saved from heirloom open-pollinated species will ensure preserved genetic heritage for years to come,” said Esther Wingard, a Seed Library volunteer at the library.

Wingard says that over the last 200 years, due to lifestyle changes, many plant species have been lost. You may not garden, but it’s likely your grandmother did, and it’s even more likely her grandmother gardened.

“A change in lifestyle and seed-saving practices has resulted in a tremendous loss of genetic diversity,” said Wingard.

“Each gardener can find their own level of time commitment to the art of seed saving, but it starts with a collection of seeds, a library of seeds,” she explained. “That is the sort of library that is being started here in Berthoud.”

For people who have been saving seeds for generations − perhaps a family tomato that has been grown in the region for generations − those seeds can now be donated to the library for others to use.

Seeds from the library can be checked out and saved seeds from the plants grown can be returned to the library at the end of the growing season. The library has best seed-saving practices educational materials available, and events are planned throughout the summer to offer seed-saving instruction.

“Seeds to be checked out will be organized according to variety and ease of seed-saving,” said Wingard. “Assistance will always be available if needed.”

On Saturday, May 2, at 2:30 p.m. there will be a grand opening of the Seed Library at Berthoud Community Library in conjunction with a seedling swap. Longtime gardeners and newbies are invited to participate. The library and Berthoud Local are sponsoring the Seed Library, which is a participant in the Seed Savors Exchange Community Seed Resource Program.