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Sprouting hope for local gardeners

Local seed library opens

March 4 marked the opening day and launch party of the Brown County Library’s Seed Library. William Kopp photo

By William Kopp

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – March 4 marked the opening day and launch party of the Brown County Library’s Seed Library with their initial vine cutting.

With an event turnout of over 500 people and the initial supply of 3000 plus seed packets already snapped up by the public, things are looking great for this new addition to the library.

The seed library is an effort by the library, along with the eight sponsors of the project, to bring about opportunities for residents of the Green Bay area to grow their own nutritious produce — and do it for free.

“People can get free seeds through this,” Sandy Kallunki, Central Library manager said. “That’s what we’re focusing on this first year. The idea is to encourage people to grow their own fresh, nutritious produce.”

As a secondary part of the project, the Northeast Wisconsin Master Gardeners are starting a seed steward program in which interested gardeners are able to learn about seed saving and, moreover, save seeds in order to continue the seed library moving into the future.

“It’s not an obligation,” Kallunki added. “People who get seeds don’t have to do that; it’s really just for those interested in learning the process in order to make sure that the seeds they bring back are sorted properly and pollinated.”

Seed libraries are not a new concept, with many of them founded throughout the United States and even some built internationally.

While there are many seed libraries around the world, a lot of them struggle due to their nature of giving away free seeds with low budgets.

“One thing I find special about [the Brown County Library] is the fact that it is [focused in] so much community collaboration,” Kallunki said.

The real benefit of the seed library in Brown County is that with eight sponsors, it’s hard to get in the way of the library’s vision and motivations for providing gardeners with free means to obtain seed packets.

Benefits and seed information

Initial motivations for the project root in the point of community nutrition and connect to the preservation of locally adapted seeds, more well known as heirloom seeds.

“That’s part of what interests people in projects like this,” Kallunki said. “You’re preserving genetic variety and encouraging the use of seeds that are adapted to this growing region. That’s really where the seed saving part of it comes in.”

And with that, the main focus for the seed library is to encourage people to learn how to create and maintain vegetable and herb gardens while participating in this preservation.

The featured seed of the year will be a package of seeds revolving around the idea of “the three sisters” and the fact that these seeds — corn, bean and squash — all nurture each other when planted together.

Also available from the master gardeners will be “dragon tongue beans” through their project One Seed, One Community.

The project hopes to encourage gardeners to save their first three produced beans to be dried and given back to the seed library in order to help continue the library’s mission.

Another goal is to hand pick vegetables for early producers of next year in order to shift the variety to be better suited for the living conditions in the area.

“We will be getting more [seeds], hopefully soon, and will announce when more are available on the seed library webpage,” Kallunki added when speaking on the already depleted 3000 plus seed packets.

For those interested in getting their own seeds, you can go to the Brown County Central Library 2nd floor to find the Seed Library and for more information go to their website at https://www.browncountylibrary.org/seed-library.

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