Merrickville library partners with community to promote growing local food

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Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford has partnered with the Merrickville Public Library to bring a seed library to the community.

Librarian Mary-Kate Laphen says Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford first approached the Library last spring with the idea of setting up a seed library. Unfortunately, they were unable to move forward with the project due to COVID-19. Now that the community is accustomed to working with pandemic and social distancing protocols, the two groups decided to move ahead with the idea, especially with so many people expressing an interest in gardening during pandemic times.

The goal of the seed library is to offer a wide range of seeds for people to pick up for free. If seed library users are successful in their gardening efforts, the request is that they re-donate seeds for the following season. “It’s the same concept of a library,” says Emalie Kamrath of Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford. “You borrow seeds now and maybe if you get some good plants and it’s successful, you want to try saving seeds and you have extra, then it’s very appreciated to be donated back; then we can keep the cycle going,” she says.

To help support the seed library, Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford sent a request to the Merrickville Lions Club, who generously donated $800 to get the project off the ground. Emalie says that with the Lion’s support and the donations they that have received from the community, they will have a good bank of seeds for the community to choose from. The focus will be on growing vegetables, to support Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford’s goal of promoting access to local food in the community, but some flower seeds will also be available. Being able to grow your own food is an empowering skill that Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford wants to help foster in the community. One of her favourite things about saving seeds is that you are saving them from a plant that has adapted specifically to the growing conditions of the local community. “That just means that season after season, if we keep saving the seeds of the strongest plants, we’re essentially developing seeds that are perfect for our area,” she says.

According to Mary-Kate, the library is looking into organizing a Zoom session with someone who knows about growing seeds for those who might need some support. “We’re going to have some information on the [Sustainable Merrickville-Wolford] website and a link on our website for when people get started, if they would like some more information about it.”

The first day of the seed library will be Saturday, March 20 (the first day of spring) and Emalie is planning on being at the Library to assist people who have questions about which seeds to choose. Seeds will be available when the Library is open, and Mary-Kate says they will continue running the program until the inventory runs out or until the growing season has come to an end.

Emalie hopes that the seed library will help foster connection and promote sustainability in the municipality. “It’s a nice project to do together as a community and feel connected in this learning experience of growing our own food,” she says.

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