TOWNSEND -- Libraries across the country from San Francisco, Boulder, Chicago and more locally, Concord and Groton, Mass., are expanding the content of what they lend to include seeds.

Yes, seeds, those tiny yet powerful bundles of genetic diversity and food source. The Townsend Public Library is now part of this inspirational group as it plans to open the Townsend Seed Lending Library in May 2014.

Seed-saving has been practiced by our ancestors for over 10,000 years. A seed lending library is part of that heritage, functioning as a seed bank collection available for the public use and benefit. Borrowers can "check out" seeds from the library and return some of them after harvest for future gardeners.

In Townsend, our seeds will be housed in a chest carefully brought from the old library to the new one. Borrowers will also find easy access to gardening books and resources as well as access to classes on how to save seeds.

Seeds for this start-up year of the Townsend Seed Lending Library will be those easiest to save, including bean, lettuce, pea, pepper and tomato. These vegetables produce seeds the same season as planted and are mostly self-pollinating. Seeds in our library are open-pollinated or heirloom varieties. This means that seeds saved from these plants will produce fruit the next season and will be the same as the parent plant.

Interested? We welcome partnerships with community organizations.


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A core group of volunteers is meeting on March 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the Townsend Library for a planning meeting.

Starter seeds have been purchased, thanks to the Friends of the Townsend Public Library and donated, thanks to the High Mowing Organic Seed Company.

Concord Public Library Seed Library organizers Enid Boasberg and Kitty Smith have graciously shared how-to information based on their experience.

In Townsend, our next step is to organize the seed inventory in readiness for a volunteer Seed Packing Party and then to open the Townsend Seed Lending Library to the public by May 1.

If you would like information about the Townsend Seed Lending Library, visit townsendlibrary.org, or email seeds@townsendlibrary.org. Townsend Library Director Stacy Schuttler and Library Trustee Cheryl Cloutier are also happy to answer questions about this project.

-- By Cheryl Cloutier