EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 17, 2014

Libraries seeing an increase in outdoor g

Libraries host seed exchanges, on-site gardens

A year after the Dig into Reading summer program, libraries are growing strong with gardens and seed exchanges..

Pelham Public Library set up a seed library in an old card catalog last year where patrons can “check out” flower and vegetable seeds, grow the plants and save seeds from those plants to donate back to the library.

“If and when they save the seeds, they can return them back to the library,” circulation manager Lucie Gratton said. “But the return is optional.”

When Pelham started the seed-sharing program, it was the only one in the state, but library staff saw catalogs popping up in libraries across the country.

Now, Gratton said, she has heard of at least three libraries in New Hampshire with the program.

“We think that we’ve been recently successful,” Gratton said. “We had a few garden programs and they were very popular.”

This year, the program has checked out more than 100 seed packets, which Gratton said is 10 times last year’s total.

The library received more seed donations this year, but they do not keep track if they come from the old, checked out seeds.

“We got more donations, but we’re not sure if it’s the same people who checked out the same seeds,” she said.

Some libraries also have gardens inspired by last year’s Dig into Reading summer program.

Kelley Library in Salem started a family community garden last year, where patrons can snip herbs and pick vegetables to take home.

“People definitely were looking forward to it and asked about it all winter long,” youth services librarian Brittany Tuttle said.

Pelham has a children’s garden, tended by volunteers. It began last year and was linked with the summer reading program.

Chester Public Library has had a sunflower garden for as long as director Tim Sheehan can remember.

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