BUCKSPORT — Bucksport residents have a new perk: access to a seed library at the Buck Memorial Library.
After months of work, Bucksprouts Seed Lending Library is open and has turned into a well-used feature by community members.
The project was the work of Lisa Ladd, the library’s director, and Terry Van Praet, who is a volunteer as well as a Master Gardener. When Ladd learned Van Praet was a Master Gardener, Ladd asked if she might develop a seed lending library.
“She had visited several seed lending libraries, most recently in Ajo, Arizona,” Van Praet said. “It was clear that this small rural library had a major impact through its seed library, creating a resource for folks who could not afford seeds of their own, providing nourishment for many, and an opportunity for a community to come together to grow food.”
A seed library works just like a book library only patrons are leaving their seeds in the ground to grow instead of returning them.
However, the library is encouraging seed library users to let some of their produce go to seed and then at the end of the growing season, collect the seed, label it and bring it to the library for inclusion in the catalog.
To get the program started, Van Praet recruited a number of volunteers. She also wrote to several seed companies requesting donations.
Van Praet struck gold or perhaps green when reaching out to High Mowing Organic Seeds in Vermont.
“High Mowing Seed Company sent us tens of thousands of seeds spanning 102 varieties of vegetables and flowers,” Van Praet said.
The Master Gardener and a group of volunteers repackaged all of those seeds into smaller envelopes for patrons to “check out.”
All of the envelopes are categorized alphabetically in an old library card catalog, which was no longer needed for book records after the library’s catalog of materials was digitized last year.
Patrons are asked to write down which seeds they are taking in a binder kept at the library desk so Van Praet will know what needs to be replenished for next season.
To go along with the free seeds, Van Praet has led a number of gardening workshops, including getting started with a backyard garden and propagation techniques.
On June 10 and 11 at 10 a.m., Van Praet will teach about common pests and problems and how to treat them.
On July 15 and 16 at 10 a.m., there will be a workshop titled “Help, I Have Too Much Zucchini (or other woes of the overplanted, overproducing garden).”
The library was renovated during the COVID-19 pandemic and since reopening has been averaging 30 to 40 patrons a day, said Doug Knobloch, the library’s board president.
Correction: An earlier version of this article contained an error concerning Terry Van Praet’s position at the library. She is a volunteer.