Growth opportunities found in seed library

Published 5:00 am Saturday, June 8, 2024

While the Luverne Public Library provides a variety of materials to check out, one section provides visitors with the chance to grow more than their knowledge by acquiring resources they won’t need to return. 

The seed library section of the Luverne Public Library provides resources for library-goers to assist them with starting and maintaining their own gardens. The section includes heirloom seeds and gardening books available in an area dedicated to growing. 

The seed library was started in 2017 by Judy Russell, a master gardener and member of the Luverne Gardening Club. 

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“The idea is to save seeds from the community that they are grown in and pass them along to others, so that some of these older varieties, especially vegetables, do not disappear,” Russell said. 

The library staff collaborated with Russell to start the seed Library, as Russell worked with the library director, Kathryn Tomlin. Russell presented the idea of the seed library to the board of directors, and proposed that the library provide space for the seeds.

“It offers people free access to see if they might want to [garden], so that they can have plants out in their garden and farming plants,” Tomlin said. “We just thought it’d be a great addition to the services that we offer here.”

When Russell was collecting seeds for the seed library, she was able to find two species of pea plants that she had only heard about in Crenshaw county; the Hitt pea and the John King pea.

According to Russell, the John King pea was traced back to an individual who moved to Crenshaw county from Texas. 

Additionally, the Hitt pea is named after a preacher who ended up in Crenshaw county after World War Two. The Hitt pea was shared throughout Crenshaw county through members of his congregation. 

“His own daughter did not realize that there was a pea that was named for him,” Russell said. “I was able to tell her about the pea being named for her father, that it’s still in existence and I was able to give her some.” 

Today, library-goers are encouraged to check out some of the seeds that are provided by the community, a supply which includes heirloom vegetables, herbs and ornamental plants.

Russell notes that while better tasting, the heirloom vegetables might be more difficult to grow due to their lack of resistances to the elements. 

“[Tomatoes] are grown now so that they’re disease resistant, they’re insect resistant, and [growers] are able to transport them long distances on trucks,” Russell said. “But what got left out of this equation was the actual taste.

“Heirloom tomatoes are not that easy to grow, but they are better tasting than any tomato that I have had lately in years.”

To check out seeds from the seed library, library-goers can take the seeds that they need and record their selections in the check-out log on the shelf. 

The library staff also encourage those who take seeds to replenish the supply once the seed is fully grown. They recommend saving the seeds from the healthy heirloom plant, making sure that the seeds are in a dry container that labels the seed type, who donated it and the year it was donated.

The seed library can be found in the Luverne Public Library, which is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Monday through Thursday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.