Seed Library serves gardeners, even with PNA doors closed

Seed Library serves gardeners, even with PNA doors closed
Ana Maria KingBy ana-maria

By Bill Thorness

Third-grader Mia asked for Chocolate Cherry tomato, but also Purple of Sicily cauliflower and French beans. She was working on a school assignment to start a new garden.

The Calvin Community Garden, a co-op that grows a lot for the Hopelink food bank, sought beans, beets, chard, onions, and mustard greens.

Monica placed an order for seeds for four families in her neighborhood, seeking greens, brassicas, and edible flowers.

New gardeners and veterans alike have been requesting seeds from the King County Seed Lending Library branch that is hosted at the PNA. It is happening because we figured out a way, even with the PNA closed and social distancing mandated, to share our seed supply. Since announcing our program on April 19, we’ve filled over 50 seed orders. Phinney, Greenwood, and Ballard neighbors have used the service, but we’ve also served people from around the city.

Laura with a seed packet“What a fantastic program!” says Laura Railing of White Center. “I am so thankful for the opportunity to grow and share seeds with the community. It’s a neat chance to learn more about gardening and turning my black thumb green.”

The program began when a neighbor contacted the PNA wondering how he could donate seeds. Simultaneously, we heard that our seed companies were experiencing order backlogs due to a booming gardening craze, in some cases causing them to suspend new orders for a time.

All of our seeds were stored behind the locked doors of the PNA Tool Lending Library, but Facilities Director Eric Jusino responded quickly to our request to access and cart away the seed supply. Then, Administrative Director John Jones enthusiastically brainstormed with us on setting up a drop location on the PNA campus where people could pick up their orders.

One sunny afternoon I spread the dozens of jars and seed packets out on tables and drafted an inventory list, which I posted to our website, www.kingcoseed.org. Stalwart PNA volunteer Polly Freeman agreed to host the seeds temporarily at her home and to fill orders as they arrived. We would take email orders and deliver them in batches to the PNA drop point twice a week.

It didn’t take long after we announced the program on our website before the orders rolled in. Clearly people sheltering at home had time on their hands and the desire to put them in the dirt.

“It’s great to see all the interest in seeds and gardening!” says Polly. “In these times, it’s a reminder that we can increase our self-sufficiency and grow our own healthy local food – and, if you’re like me, it helps keep you sane as well!”

We quickly ran out of arugula and some other crops, but have bolstered our supply from other KCSLL branches, a couple of which are also starting this socially distanced sharing.

We still have plenty of seeds available and are taking orders. For details, see our blog post. Happy planting!