The Hampton Bays Library has partnered with Ecological Culture Initiative (ECI), a Hampton Bays-based non-profit organization that is dedicated to “fostering an ecology-based evolution of the local community through advocacy, education, and practical assistance,” for the Good Ground Seed Library, which will make its debut on Wednesday, March 8th.
“They’re doing a lot of different ‘green’ things throughout the community,” noted Library Director Susan LaVista about ECI. “The Library will be hosting a seed library that will be in the Reference Department. It will be available to all, whether you have a library card or not.”
The Good Ground Seed Library, which is the brainchild of Rachel Stephens, Agro-Ecology Director of ECI, will offer completely complimentary organic vegetable seeds that will be packaged in an envelope that features directions on germination, growing and harvesting.
“As Agro-ecology director of ECI and owner of Sweet Woodland Farm, I am excited to offer something to the community that will enable and encourage folks to learn skills which may have been lost through the years,” shared Stephens. “One of those very basic and increasingly important skills is how to grow your own food. My hope is that by opening the seed library we will empower our residents to cultivate a garden of their own.”
Several variations will be offered, and the community can contribute to the collection by donating their own seeds for others to take. “A seed library is a place where community members can get seeds for free and is run for the public benefit. The focus is to promote growing your own food organically and is an important step in developing a network of seed savers, creating locally adapted varieties, responding proactively to climate change or loss of gene integrity due to GMOs and to preserve genetic diversity,” Stephens noted. “Seed saving is something humans have done for over 10,000 years. We would like to rejoin the ritual and start to save seed and share the abundance with the community.”
“Three international companies own patents for and produce more than 50 percent of the world’s seed and fertilizer at a time of mass species extinction and extensive biodiversity loss. That makes it imperative that we rebuild biodiversity and ecosystem health one garden at a time,” added Marc Fasanella, Founder of The Ecological Culture Initiative. “The fact that growing your own food and eating straight from the garden has so many benefits for our physical and emotional wellbeing makes initiating a seed library and teaching people to garden an obvious first choice in creating a cultural shift.”
Not only is the partnership beneficial to the community, but it could also have a positive effect on the local environment. “We’re always looking for new ways to engage the community. I think this is a win-win for everyone,” shared LaVista. “Organic, locally sustainable plants will be available. It encourages people to use local sources and plant types.”
The new venture is exciting for both avid gardeners who are looking to expand their prosperous plot and those who are just starting out. “From our perspective, it’s the perfect collaboration because they have the knowledge and the background, and the Library is a great central location,” said LaVista. “People can come see how it works if they are interested in gardening.”
In the future, the Library hopes to add gardening classes.
“We’re really excited to do this. I personally think we have to pay attention to our local environment. We’re right on the water – it’s being polluted, the bees are dying,” LaVista noted. “I think we need to educate people that there are other options.”
Prior to the Good Ground Seed Library’s launch, a Seed Sorting Party will be held on Thursday, February 23rd, from 6 to 8 p.m., where volunteers can help sort and organize the seeds.
“Establishing a seed library is an important step to develop a network of community based seed savers who create locally adapted plant varieties, increase biodiversity, and mitigate the loss of plant gene integrity due to the genetic engineering of commercially produced seeds and plants,” added Fasanella.
The Good Ground Seed Library’s grand opening will be held on Wednesday, March 8th at 6:30 p.m. After the unveiling, Ecological Culture Initiative will present Reclaiming Our Good Ground: Sowing the Seeds of Change.
Hampton Bays Public Library is located at 52 Ponquogue Avenue in Hampton Bays. For more information, call 631-728-6241 or visit hamptonbayslibrary.org. For more information about Ecological Culture Initiative, visit eciny.org.