With social distancing and quarantine, people have a little bit more time on their hands these days, which is great news for gardeners.
The Innisfil Seed Library is a way for green thumbs of all levels to immerse themselves in plant and garden culture, with the seed borrowing program.
Innisfil resident Bridget Indelicato is the founder of the seed library. She started the volunteer program in 2016 in partnership with the Innisfil ideaLAB & Library and Innisfil Garden Club. Her interest in growing seeds started 10 years ago, while living in Peterborough.
What started off as a small group initiative, has blossomed into a longstanding program valued by many in town.
Indelicato is passionate about seeds and thoroughly enjoys sharing her knowledge and expertise with the Innisfil gardening community through workshops and ‘seed packaging parties’ offered at both the Lakeshore and Cookstown branches.
"I think it's really fun and neat to teach people how to do it," she said.
The seed library is all run by volunteers, and offered at The Innisfil ideaLAB & Library and Lakeshore and Cookstown branches. The program is now in its fifth season and runs from April to September.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people were able to go into physical seed bin stations, with seeds divided by plant families in binders.
But now with the libraries closed, the Innisfil Seed Library has moved to an online platform, offering seeds to its members by mail.
The community is welcome to browse through the online catalogues of herb, vegetable and flower seeds to borrow, and request up to ten popular vegetable and herb seed packets and two flower seed packets to grow at home. Once harvested, the seeds are returned for others to use.
“With food security being at the top of many people's minds during this time, growing food at home has never been more popular and crucial,” said Indelicato.
The seeds are all collected through community donations, and are packaged and put together by a group of volunteers. In anticipation for the growing season, the volunteers had already pre-packaged the seeds which would have been distributed at their annual Seedy Saturday event in March.
Indelicato didn’t want to see the seeds go to waste, which is why she came up with the idea of mailing them out. The library was on board with the idea, and covered the cost of postage for the packets.
“The response and gratefulness of participants has been so wonderful,” she said. "It keeps the program alive a little differently."
Since the beginning of May, 575 seed packets have been mailed out, estimating 6,000 individual seeds.
"Hopefully people will get their seeds this month and they can start planting stuff," she said. "There seems to be a resurgence of going back to seed."
She plans to distribute her seed packets until she runs out. Anyone interested in participating in the seed library program can sign up on the Innisfil Seed Library website here.
While the seed library program is always free-of-charge, participants are encouraged to grow, save and donate some of their seeds back to the Innisfil Seed Library at the end of the season when it's safe and possible to do so at the Cookstown and Lakeshore Branches of the library.