While visiting Main Library one day last spring, resident
Harriet Allen noticed the seed library – an old-fashioned
card catalog cabinet filled with packets of vegetable and
She was aware of the concept, as she had previously used
seeds from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s library.
So she helped herself to lettuce, heirloom tomato, and basil.
Deer ate the one tomato she grew, but she had success with
other seedlings. “The best thing about seed sharing is that it is
very democratic. Everyone is welcome to try some herbs and
vegetables,” says Allen.
The seed library grew from a suggestion at a Moreland
Neighbor Night and was nurtured by former Community Engagement
Librarian Gabriel Venditti. After researching the idea,
he contacted the Cleveland Seed Bank, the largest organization
of seed savers in Ohio. Its mission is to educate the community
on how to create a sustainable, biodiverse seed supply to support
local food systems. Since 2013, Cleveland Seed Bank has distributed
more than 25,000 seed packets and opened 10 seed libraries
in the region, including Shaker Library’s last year in the spring.
The seeds come from High Mowing Seeds in Vermont. All
the varieties grow well in Northeast Ohio.
The Cleveland Seed Bank provided the Library with a catalog that
details the different seed varieties available and how they should
be planted to allow for pollination and seed saving. The seed library
also has copies of The Cleveland Seed Bank Seed Saving Guidebook
available to borrow, as well as many of the Library’s gardening books.
Resident Jenn DePrizio learned about the seed library from the
Library’s Facebook page. So she and her six-year-old daughter, Josie,
decided to expand their vegetable planting last summer and added a
second raised bed.
“The great selection of seeds allowed us to try out a bunch of
new things. Josie was excited to have the opportunity to choose what
plants she wanted to grow,” says Jenn. Both she and Josie enjoyed
looking through the catalog and deciding what they wanted to plant.
They checked out a selection of sugar snap peas, zucchini, spinach,
radishes, carrots, beets, and lettuce.
“Everything grew with varied success except the beets; some
critter continually dug up that patch of the bed,” says Jenn. “The peas
were by far by my daughter’s favorite. She would eat them right off
Their mother-daughter gardening project led them to check out
some books, the most influential being Square Foot Gardening by
Mel Bartholomew. The square-foot method helped them maximize
their two small beds to accommodate many different plantings.
“The variety of options at the seed library allowed us to try out
some different things to see what would grow best in our space – and
to discover new veggies,” says Jenn. “It was a great learning experience
that Josie and I could have together. She took great pride in
watching her seeds grow into vegetables that our family could enjoy.
What a fabulous resource for our community.”
The Library has added gardening programs like Native Shrubs
for Your Yard, offered as part of the Doan Brook Watershed series;
Fall Planting for Spring Harvest Pruning Techniques by Master
Gardeners; and Composting 101 by Rust Belt Riders, to help inform
and support community gardeners.
Visitors can check out up to five seed packets per month. No
library card is needed. Simply complete a Seed Library form and list
the seed packets selected. Bring both the packets and the form to
the Information Desk where a librarian will enter the data into the
Cleveland Seed Bank’s data collection form.
For the latest news and information
about Shaker Heights Public Library,
visit our web site at shakerlibrary.org.
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and on Twitter @ShakerLibrary.
peruses the seed
reaped the benefits
during the summer
22 SPRING 2020 | WWW.SHAKER.LIFE