Friends’ $81,000 contribution supports unique checkout system
Gardeners will be pleased to learn that a portion of this year’s $81,000 donation from the Friends of the Chandler Public Library will go toward maintaining Sunset Library’s Seed Library. $1,000 of the donation will help keep popular seeds in stock and provide the seeds that the community says it wants. About 6,000 packets of seeds have been checked out from the seed repository since it started in 2021.
Residents can check out up to three seed packets each month with their Chandler Public Library card so they can grow a thriving garden and participate in gardener-to-gardener seed swaps. Seeds are free, cannot be reserved, and availability is determined by supply and season. Chandler Public Librarian Aubrey Kowitt said planting that first seed in the ground often inspires people to learn other ways to show appreciation for the earth that they can pass onto the next generation.
“Seed libraries encourage individuals of all ages to learn about the environment we live in and to have a greater awareness of how the natural world works, including what’s good for it and what can harm it,” Kowitt said. Bob Lowry, the president of the Friends board, expressed gratitude to the community for their support. Kowitt said the Friends’ allocation of dollars will allow it to purchase nonGMO seeds (produced without genetic engineering) to replenish the library and purchase labels and envelopes for packaging seeds. “We will also be able to provide an occasional workshop on seed saving so residents can learn how to not only grow plants successfully, but to save the seeds for their friends and neighbors and to continue growing those plants year after year.”
The seed library was made possible by a grant awarded to Sunset Library by the American Library Association, Resilient Communities: Libraries Respond to Climate Change. “We were one of 25 libraries in the nation to receive this grant which aimed at engaging the community in programs, conversations, and activities related to the climate crisis, as well as climate resiliency,” Kowitt said.
Librarian Kowitt said they try to make available seeds that have a long history in the Southwest—for example, tepary beans that are extremely heat and drought-tolerant. “Some of the seeds in our library are purchased, and many are donated by local growers in the area,” she said. “You can grow something from climate-adaptable seeds, save the seeds from your healthy harvests, and then donate seeds so your neighbors can do the same.” Kowitt said another aspect of seed libraries is how they promote food security.
“If food becomes more challenging to grow on a large scale and more expensive over time due to the climate crisis (extreme heat, drought, wildfires, etc.), you can learn how to have an endless supply of home-grown food on hand,” she said. “No matter the cost of food at the grocery store, learning how to grow your own nutritious food means you’ll live a more resilient and sustainable life. Plus, seeds from the Seed Library are free!”
Finally, seed libraries promote and encourage healthy habits. “Gardening is exercise for both your body and your brain,” Kowitt said. “Getting outside is good for all of us (when we can do it safely) and working in your garden can be very meditative, good for your mental health. It can be a fun activity for families to do together, and it forces you to move your body.” Upcoming Seed Swap Event at Chandler Sunset Library: Saturday, Aug. 26 from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Seed Saving Workshop at Chandler Sunset Library (space limited and registration required): Saturday, Sept. 23 from 10 – 11 a.m.