Franklin Countys First News

Phillips Library initiates Seed Loan Project

Will Bonsall offers seed saving tips to a room full of interested library goers.

PHILLIPS - A new catalog at the Phillips Public Library will now allow members to check out a variety of seeds for their home gardens, with the expectation they return them with their end of season harvest.

The brain child of volunteers Andrea Nurse and Betsy Squibb, the Seed Loan Project will not only allow patrons to check out seeds for free, it will also provide ongoing education for the care and handling of those seeds, and more importantly, how to replenish the catalog.

"It's all on the honor system. North East Harbor Library has been doing it for a long time so we are modeling our system after theirs," Librarian Hedy Langdon said.

Langdon is helping to organize the educational side of the seed project, and kicked off the series by bringing seed-saving expert Will Bonsall to the library for a public discussion.

Bonsall has been saving seeds on his farm in Industry since his early twenties and recently released his book- "Essential guide to Radical, Self-Reliant Gardening"- which details the process. Bonsall has saved thousands of varieties of seeds, which he stores and manages primarily in the basement of his home. Some of those varieties have gone extinct aside from the collection Bonsall keeps.

"My intention is not to be a 'seed bank.' The most reliable way of preserving the genetics of the horticulture landscape is by eating, planting and growing," Bonsall told the large group gathered at the library two weeks ago.

Though the seed saving process varies from species to species, Bonsall offered tips and best practices on the storage of the seeds, with the hopes of keeping the library's new seed catalog in top notch condition.

Bonsall shared that he recently heard a startling statistic about the number of new apartments without an oven- indicating how few people are actually cooking meals that require more than a microwave or hot plate.

"This is how far we have gone. It's not just about seeds, it's about our food. We've gone so far from taking responsibility for ourselves," he said.

He went on to encourage people to shop at the farmers market instead of the grocery store. Then start asking the farmers how to grow it. Then starting asking them how to save the seeds.

"I'm suggesting that growing food and saving seeds is too important to your life to farm out to someone else," he said.

For more information on the Seed Loan Project and a list of upcoming workshops, contact the library at 639-2665.

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  1. The seed-saving project at the Phillips library will continue with Ellen Foster of Island Farm, Wednesday, March 28 @ 6:00. Her focus will be on building soil productivity.