DeKalb County Community Gardens is working in partnership with the Sycamore and the DeKalb Public Libraries to create one of the first seed libraries in the state of Illinois. In preparation for the seed banks there will be community potlucks and seed sorting events held at each library.
The first will be held at the Sycamore Public Library on Tuesday March 25th at 6pm. It is free and open to any one who is interested. At the event there will be time to talk and share the various food items that people bring. Then seeds will be sorted from large containers into various small envelopes. The envelopes will be labeled and then made available for check out on and after Earth Day, April 22nd. Members of the community will be able to check out seeds, plant them, and use the vegetables. They will be instructed on how they can collect and save the seeds in the fall. They are then asked to bring some of the collected seeds back to the library, where they can be shared with others next spring.
Seed lending libraries are becoming more popular as more people are concerned about growing more of their own food for health, economic, or environmental reasons; or simply because fresh grown produce tastes so much better.
Maintaining plant diversity is becoming of more importance and seed libraries provide a community level approach to preserving and increasing heirloom plant varieties. The other added benefit of a local seed library is that it allows for the preservation of local strains.
“At our historical garden at the Ellwood/Miller cabin near Genoa, we grow beans that have been in the Roger Watson family for generations.” said Dan Kenney, executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens. Roger Watson is a long term resident of the Genoa area.
Over time seed libraries will allow vegetable growers access to seeds that have been tailored to their exact regions. Through generations seed saving such as this will refine seed lines to more locally adapted seeds that will grow and throve in DeKalb County.
Seed saving is also part of the DeKalb County historical heritage. Being the home of the hybrid seed corn, DeKalb County is uniquely situated for carrying on a long time tradition.
“This is a great community building event, educational, fun, and environmentally important. We hope people who care about one of these areas come out to join the seed sorting potlucks.
In the future there will also be workshops available for learning how to gather and save seeds, and other related topics at the libraries.
The libraries will also have an educational display set up with books, videos, and other resources for gardening and seed saving.
Other dates to remember: April 8th 7:00pm seed sorting potluck at DeKalb Public Library, April 22nd a beginning gardening workshop at Sycamore Public Library, and April 29th Beginning Gardening Workshop at the DeKalb Public Library. If you would like more information contact either public library, or Dan Kenney, executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens, 815-793-0950.