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Seed library opens at County Extension office
SARASOTA COUNTY - Area gardeners have a new tool to try a range of crops and to connect with fellow growers, with a new seed library established by Sarasota County.
The seed library, available at the UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County office at 6700 Clark Road in Sarasota, allows community members to "check out" one or two packets of seeds of their choosing at no cost. In return, they donate their excess, viable seeds for others to use.
"Humans have been saving seeds and passing them along for thousands of years," said Stacy Spriggs, gardens program coordinator with the Extension and Sustainability office. "Paying it forward like this allows you to grow a new crop, permits other gardeners to benefit from your extra seeds, and reduces waste."
The seed library is the latest component of the county's gardens program, which aims to build communities around food, improve access to healthy produce, and raise agricultural awareness. Already, the program includes community gardens, school gardens, and the One Seed shared growing effort, similar to the One Book, One Community reading program at county libraries.
At its core, the seed library is a simple concept, Spriggs said. Many gardeners simply don't need all the seeds contained in packets they purchase. Rather than discarding any they don't use while planting for the season, they simply would bring the extras to the library, donate them, and then leave with a seed packet or two they choose from the library.
Community garden members already had established just such an informal seed-swapping network, which provided the genesis for the library. From there, Spriggs researched the approach, found seed libraries operating elsewhere, and built a program for Sarasota County.
The library, open to the public from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon Friday, provides and accepts seeds from edible and flowering plant varieties. However, seeds from nuisance or invasive plants are barred, as are seeds from any plant varieties currently not approved by code, regulation or law.
Ultimately, the idea is to add seed libraries at multiple locations around the county.
"Over time," Spriggs said, "we hope the seed library approach will make it even easier for residents to grow food successfully."