Fremont library launches seed program for gardeners
The library's only request is people who take seeds return some that ripen at the end of the growing season for other gardeners to use next year.
"Seed saving is an important part of the gardeners tool kit," said Rachael Rezek, a community services librarian working on the project. "Seeds that are saved from locally grown plants season after season have adapted to local climate conditions."
Fremont officials are calling their collection a seed library. Rezek said seed-sharing programs help preserve and spread varieties of garden plants.
"Since the early 1900s, the genetic diversity of garden seeds has declined as gardeners stopped saving seed and began relying on commercial seed companies," Rezek said. "(They) rely more and more on a limited range of hybrid seeds."
Seeds should be available by April 1 at the library, 1170 N. Midlothian Road, Mundelein. They'll be at the readers services desk on the first floor.
Anyone can pick up seeds, regardless of where they live or if they're a Fremont library cardholder.
"We will not be scanning library cards when they take seeds," Rezek said. "We will be asking people to not take more than they need, but it is on the honor system."
Fremont is accepting seed donations, too. To participate, put seeds for a single plant variety in a clean, dry envelope and then attach a donation label that includes: your name; the species or common name of the plant; and the year the seeds were collected.
More than 500 seed libraries exist nationally, many in public libraries, said John Torgrimson, executive director of Seed Savers Exchange.
Illinois lawmakers legalized seed libraries last year, although some exchanges are older. The legislation says noncommercial seed libraries and seed exchanges can operate as long as they follow labeling requirements.
State Rep. Elaine Nekritz was among the proposal's sponsors. She called seed libraries a valuable resource.
"For so many people, environmentalism begins in their own backyard," said Nekritz, a Northbrook Democrat.
For more information about Fremont's program, call the library at (847) 566-8702.
Storing seeds: What you should knowHere are some tips for saving plant seeds:
• Seeds from plants that are pollinated by insects, birds, wind, or other natural means are great for saving. They're called open pollinated seeds.
• Heirloom varieties, which are passed down between people, also are good.
• Hybrid seeds should be avoided because they're not as strong.
• Store seeds in cool, dry places. Warmth and moisture can cause them to deteriorate. A refrigerator is ideal.
• Seeds should be kept in airtight containers, such as glass jars, metal containers or sealed paper envelopes.
• If you're storing seeds in a garage or shed, use sealed containers to keep rodents away.
Sources: chicagobotanic.org/plantinfo/faq/saving_seeds, blog.seedsavers.org/blog/open-pollinated-heirloom-and-hybrid-seeds