(SOUTHSIDER VOICE PHOTOS BY STEVE PAGE)
There once was a time when people went to a library to check out books, because books were what libraries offered.
Then came video cassettes, then DVDs to watch.
Now, there’s even more.
For patrons of the Decatur Township Library, the seeds of change have been sown.
Figuratively and literally.
The library, located just off Ind. 67 adjacent to Decatur Central High School, is in its third year of being a seed library.
Simply put, the seed library is a program that allows patrons to check out and take home a large variety of free vegetable, herb and flower seeds.
“A couple of the branches – Spades Park and Glendale – started it,” noted Decatur Branch Manager Doriene Smither. “We decided it was a good thing. It just kept growing.
“This is our third summer doing it. Since the program took it over, it’s more publicized. It’s really picking up as we go.”
The seed packets can be found in the Decatur Branch to the left of the entrance counter, in a well-lit side of the room. There’s a large container, with rows of pull-out shelves. Shelves have the seed names on them. Open a shelf, and find small packets of seeds ready for the taking.
“A lot of patrons don’t know that they can use their IndyPL library card to check out free seeds and try growing their own food,” Melissa Wooton, IndyPL’s adult services manager, said on the library’s website. “The seed collection varies a bit by location, but our core collection will be available at any branch you visit while supplies last.”
Wooton helped launch the first seed library at the Glendale Branch in 2014. Today, the program has expanded to 17 locations with dozens of options, including flowers, herbs and vegetables.
Smither said the demand for seeds has changed.
“This year, they’re focused more on edible plants,” she said. “It used to be flowers. Now, there are herbs and vegetables that go with a community garden, so people can grow their own healthy meals.”
The IndyPL’s Seed Library Core Collection is plentiful:
Coneflowers, Marigold (Brocade Mix), Milkweed (Nasturtium), Sunflower and Sunseed.
Basil (Genovese and Thai), Cilantro (Calypso), Dill (Dukat) Garlic Chives, Chinese Leeks, Oregano and Sage.
Green Beans (Bush Provider and Pole), Carrots (Scarlet Nantes), Collard Greens, Cucumber (General Lee), Lettuce (Leaf, Allstar Gourmet), Kale (Red Russian), Pea (Bistro), Peas (Oregon Sugar Pod), Peppers (Jalapeno, Traveler Strain), Peppers (Sweet Bell, California Wonder), Pumpkin (New England Pie), Radish (French Breakfast), Spinach (American), Squash (Butternut, Waltham), Squash, (Zucchini, Dunja), Swiss Chard, Tomato, (Heirloom, Matt’s Wild Cherry).
According to the IPL website, converting seeds from bulk orders to small seed packets couldn’t have been completed without the assistance of over 155 community volunteers from corporations such as Corteva, Salesforce, Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, and Clif Bar Baking Company, civic groups like Downtown Indy Rotary Club, Butler Alpha Phi Omega, and AmeriCorps RSVP, and an army of Master Gardeners from Purdue Extension.
Then there are those books, for so long the staple of libraries.
Here are some of the gardening offerings:
Botanical and Herb Garden Creations, Eating the Season, Edible Flowers, Flower Gardening in Indiana, Flower Gardening with a Plan, Free Gardening Docs from Purdue, Garden Photography, Gardening e-Books, Gardening in an Apartment (or other small space!), Growing Fruit in the City, and Indoor Kitchen Gardens.
There are also gardening books for children, including Gardening for Kids, How Does Your Garden Grow, Let it Grow! Springtime Flowers and Gardens; Little Indoor Gardens for Kids - Terrariums & the Hydrologic Cycle; Plants for Kids - Experiments and Activities for Backyard Botanists; Seeds and Sprouts, and Seeds to Grow.
“People really like the program,” Smither said. “They start coming here in March, asking when we’re going to have those seeds.”
For more information, go to https://www.indypl.org/services/seed-library.