Seed-swapping libraries have popped up around the world with the ferocity of spring daffodils. The concept enables borrowers to start or improve their harvest gardens by ‘loaning out’ seeds from a local library.
Queenstown-based librarian Abigail Brooks germinated the Wakatipu’s own seed swap project a few years ago; “I wanted to get the idea across that seeds are a resource and that they’re something in our community that we can share. I started an autumn seed swap and realised that this was something that could be more permanent.”
“There’s lots of seed libraries around the world, I saw a brilliant one up in Nelson and I thought: why can’t we do that here?”
The initial popularity of the project was spurred on by local businesses like New World, who donated lots of potted seeds from their Little Garden promotion. This enabled Abigail to encourage more seed-swappers to buy or swap seeds at the library.
Last autumn, the project was made permanent and now there’s a display of seeds for library members to choose from.
“Basically, you have to be a member of the library to borrow,” explains Abigail.
“You can borrow whichever seeds you want (but, just while we’re getting started, we’ve limited that to two seed packets per person… we need more seeds!). I’ll then email everyone in the autumn saying that I hope they’ve had a great growing season and if they have any seeds left over, could they bring them back to the library. It doesn’t have to be the seeds that they borrowed, it can be any seeds they have.”
She adds that if works great if someone has had a bumper season; “It’s basically a gift, they don’t have to return something, but we hope that they do bring something back. Ideally, they bring seeds that they’ve grown, because they’ll be adapted to our environment.”
It’s hoped the seed library will help improve the region’s food resilience, as well as enabling more people to learn about and to try growing their own food. Get involved at any Queenstown Lakes District library.
Words Bethany Rogers