Library to distribute seeds starting today

Published 12:10 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Library-goers can check out more than books and videos this spring, thanks to a third-year program promoting heirloom gardening.

The Clark County Public Library’s Seed Library, which allows patrons to “check out” seeds, opens today.

Clark County Public Library is offering more than 130 different types of seeds to library card holders during its seed library.

Library Director Julie Maruskin said the library has given out a many as 12,000 seed packets in the past in the busiest three months after the seed library opens each year.

The packets are sorted according to recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture on how to prepare Victory Gardens, which were started by civilians during the first world war.

The guidelines give advice on how many seeds are necessary to feed a family, and are what modern seed packets bought at a store follow as well, she said.

Clark County partners with Madison and Bourbon counties — which also offer seed libraries — to purchase seeds in bulk for distribution.

In Clark County, the purchase is made with money from the library’s annual plant sale, making the cost a wash while still offering the service to the community.

“It’s essentially a way to give back to the community,” Maruskin said. “We estimate that we put about $2,000 worth of produce on everyone’s tables, based on each participant growing two to three plants.”

Participants in the program can include anyone with a library card, and Maruskin said each year the library sees a very diverse mix of people getting seeds.

The library also offers a gardening class that teaches people about planting, transplanting and caring for vegetable plants. Participants are required to transplant a plant that they are then allowed to take home.

The next class will take place March 11 at 11 a.m., Maruskin said.

All the plants used in the classes, as well as the seeds, are raised organically and purchased as close to Winchester as possible, she said.

“If you want to grow hybrids that’s fine, we don’t make any judgements here, but we start clean,” Maruskin said.

She said good choices for those looking to start a garden with no experience include bush beans, radishes and tomatoes.

The seed library is also offering some flowers for the first time. Maruskin said the flowers are non-invasive, native to Kentucky and attract pollinators.

Seeds can be picked up at the library, but orders of up to 30 packets can be prepared online.

Seeds available include a variety of fruits and vegetables from beans and brussels sprouts to melons and squash, along with herbs and flowers.

For more information about the seed library, or to prepare your online order, visit clarkbooks.org.