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May 28, 2014

Kate's Korner: Libraries… for Seeds?

When people see the Demonstration Garden at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services (SFBFS), they are usually amazed. They take in the gigantic zucchini, the tasty strawberries, the innovative aquaponics system and the fantastic Kitchen Table. Generally, people marvel at how much goes on in our garden and how good it looks. What fewer people know is that the garden is not constrained to our outside area. A vital part of our garden is tucked secretly away inside the Food  program office. Have you seen our Seed & Resource Library?

In this room thousands of vegetable, fruit, and flower seeds are all eagerly waiting to be checked out, planted and producing beautiful produce and blooms! There are organized shelves full of a variety of seeds from amaranth and arugula to watermelon and wheat. A reference manual will help you determine what sun and water needs each plant has as well as how easy they are to grow and the seasons they prefer to grow. There are empty seed packets and labels offered for convenience. It’s basically a candy store for seeds!

The seeds are “checked out” and not just given away. This means we want gardeners to save some seed from their plants and return it to the Seed Library, in order to keep seeds available. In general, we want people to be knowledgeable about how to save their own seed so they no longer have to purchase new seed season after season. We have offered a Seed Saving class and have another coming up in summer that we encourage our seed “borrowers” to attend.

We also have a resource library with a plethora of books about gardening, healthy eating, cooking, and landscape design that can be checked out for a month at a time. Some of my new favorites are the vermicomposting book Worms Ate My Garbage! and native plant and edible landscape-lover’s Reimagining the California Lawn. There is also a variety of flyers and brochures about conserving water, backyard chickens, fruit tree pruning and more.

The Seed & Resource Library was instituted in order to provide free resources to people interested in gardening. It's hard to start and maintain a healthy garden without seeds and knowledge. I hope this valuable resource makes growing food more accessible to our clients as well as encourage their enthusiasm and continued learning about food production.

Submitted by Kate Wilkins, Garden, Health and Nutrition Assistant at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

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