Orcas Library Spring Seed Update
From seed librarian Katie Wilkins
Spring is in full swing, and now is a good time to stop by the Orcas Seed Library to get some island-grown seeds for your garden. The Seed Library is located in the original part of the Orcas library building in front of the fiction shelves, and is home to an array of seeds including vegetables, flowers, herbs, native plants, and small grains that are well-adapted to our climate. Checking out seeds is easy—find the seeds you want to grow, put what you need (based on how much is available) in one of the provided envelopes, and fill out the green check-out binder with your name and the kind of seed you are borrowing. Then take the seed home, grow and enjoy your plants, and save some seed. Make sure you keep seed for yourself, and bring some back to the seed library so we can keep the cycle going. The Seed Library is stocked entirely with donations from local growers like you.
This year there is a new way you can help the Seed Library thrive: adopt a bean! If you love growing and eating beans, like I do, you know that there are a million shapes and colors and flavors to try—more than you could possibly fit into one garden. It gets extra-interesting when there is a healthy population of pollinators around to mix up those bean genetics for you. This is good fun for bean breeders, but not so great if you are trying to maintain that hundred-year-old bean variety that your Aunt Betty passed down to you.
Many of the bean varieties in the seed library are donations from the Orcas Island Seed Bank, which is a volunteer effort that I undertake with the help of my partner, Dan Borman. We grow, maintain, and distribute hundreds of varieties of locally-adapted staple crop seed--like grains and beans--to interested community members, free of charge. We have over fifty varieties of beans, and are discovering that it is a big challenge to maintain them all as separate varieties, due to limited space and active pollinators. Since variety is the spice of life, and an all-around good idea in terms of promoting biodiversity and food security, we are asking for your help.
How does it work?
For the month of May, there will be a display next to the seed library of all the different beans that the Orcas Island Seed Bank is offering up for adoption. There will also be envelopes and a sign-up sheet on the cart. You get to choose a bean that calls out to you, fill out your name on the sign-up sheet, and take some seeds home to grow. The only hitch is that you just grow that one variety of bean, or grow it far enough from your other varieties that they are unlikely to cross. Since beans can be self-pollinated, it only takes one plant to keep the variety going. It can even live in a container on a sunny porch. You then save seeds from your adopted bean and bring some back to the seed library. The bottom drawer of the seed library is dedicated to seed returns. Some of your bean seeds will go back into circulation in the seed library, and some will go to the Orcas Island Seed Bank for preservation and further distribution. If you have any questions about adopt-a-bean, or are curious to learn more about the Seed Library or Orcas Island Seed Bank, please do not hesitate to contact me, either in person or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come check out the bean selection soon—prime time for planting beans is mid-May until the first week of June.
Thanks for saving seeds!