Hotchkiss Library’s Seed Library Project Kicked off With Seed Exchange
By Thomas Wills
Sometime this spring you will be able to check out heirloom seeds from the Hotchkiss Public Library along with your books and DVD’s. Locals got a taste of the new service on January 15 when the library hosted a seed exchange at Memorial Hall next door.
This reporter expected to find a few local gardeners gathered in a corner chatting one another up while trading treasured seeds. Instead I found several aisles of tables in the large hall covered in different types of seeds, each table organized as a different category of food plant. Sort of like a book sale, except with seeds. Many were expired stock from the last season donated from organic seed companies. Hundreds of packages. Mixed in here and there with seeds from local people in jars, cartons, envelopes, and in the case of one carrot lover, a half a grocery bag of the tops of gone-to-seed carrots.
“These keep very well,” a note attached the bag reported. I availed myself of a small amount along with some lettuce seeds and those for heirloom radishes.
“Heirloom” is a term used for non-hybrid seeds from which the seed can be saved each year and will produce the same variety of vegetable or plant. Most modern seed are hybrids of many varieties from which the subsequent saved seed sometimes produces interesting things but never the same as the original cross-bred seed.
According to a library employee present, the Hotchkiss library will offer classes in seed-saving in the spring as the seed library is getting organized. All seeds will be cataloged and the list will be available at all libraries in the County, as well as on-line at the Library District’s web site. Although the seed library will be archived at the Hotchkiss Library, anyone holding a library card in the Delta County system will be able to order and check out the seeds from their local branch. They will be delivered to other branches via the courier service that facilitates the inter-library loan book service.
One difference between the seeds and books is that the seeds will be loaned on a sort of honor system. You check out the seeds in the spring and ideally return an equal or greater amount of seeds in the fall for the next season’s loans. But if your crop fails or doesn’t turn out to be what it was supposed to be, or you otherwise end up with no seeds to return at season’s end, there will be no penalty. No Seed Police with sharpened hoes in hand will appear at your door. The library would like to hear what went wrong or how the variety did as far as weaknesses and strengths. Shared information on the heirloom seeds will be available with the seeds as the library collection grows.
The Hotchkiss Seed Library is being developed with the aid of a mini-grant from North Fork Heart and Soul and the Western Colorado Community Foundation. The seed library was voted the most popular community project at a NFH&S community summit last fall.