ROCHELLE — On Saturday, Jan. 27, the Flagg-Rochelle Public Library hosted a kickoff event for its new seed library.
In an effort to educate the community about the rewards of gardening and seed saving, the library established the new seed library in conjunction with the Ogle County Master Gardeners program of the University of Illinois Extension. A seed library collects, stores and shares seeds with members of the community for free. To borrow seeds, area residents can visit the seed library next to the non-fiction section in the Flagg-Rochelle Public Library, choose 8-10 packets of seeds per fall and spring growing season, and write down choices in the seed check out list.
The plan is for the seed library to grow when participants donate back the seeds that they yield following planting and harvest. The library and the Ogle County Master Gardeners will offer seed saving workshops throughout the year. You do not need a library card to check out seeds or to attend any gardening programs.
The kick-off event included information on the seed library and how to use it, a seed swap, discussion on the dos and don’ts of winter sowing and planting winter greenhouses to take home, a seed bomb workshop, and germination tests of seeds.
The seed library is housed in a repurposed library card catalog and divided into four seed categories: herbs, flowers, native plants and vegetables. Each seed packet is alphabetized by common name within their categories.
“Everything has gone great,” Library Director Sarah Flanagan said. “We've had a great turnout. It's always exciting when you plan and plan for something and then it comes true. That's what today is. We've been talking about this for a long time. It's a great day.”
Seeds were donated to the program by Walmart, Ace Hardware, bbbseed, West Coast Seeds and Victory Seed Company. Library Outreach Clerk Ashley Capes said during the kick-off event that the community is excited about the program.
“The citizens in this town really rally when it comes to community events,” Capes said. “People really come out. They want things to do. We have free programming for all ages and lots of family-friendly events. I think people like having a place to come together and do activities.”
The library will be hosting two different herb workshops in the coming months. The first will be March 19 at 6 p.m. focused on dandelions and nettles. The second will be May 20 at 6 p.m. focused on herb harvesting and preservation. The new Rochelle Green Thumbs 4-H Club has also been started in conjunction with the seed library, and the new horticulture club will meet the first Monday of each month at the library from 6-7 p.m. The group will be growing projects for the Ogle County 4-H Fair in late July.
“It's great to see the support from the community,” Flanagan said. “We can't function as a great library if we don't have a great community behind us. It's important to have community support and people and networks.”
Flanagan said programs like the seed library help to get people into the library to see the other services it offers.
“You are not going to know what the library is about unless you come in the door and see what it's about,” Flanagan said. “You don't have to have a library card for a lot of things that we do. You can come to our programs and see what we're all about. And maybe that entices you to come back and see us again. We're excited about that and we welcome everyone here at the library.”
Capes believes the seed library is going to expand “very quickly” and said the kick-off event already saw seed donations and people bringing up ideas for its future.
Upcoming gardening and seed saving programs can be found at the www.rochellepubliclibrary.org or on its Facebook page at Flagg-Rochelle Public Library. Email a master gardener from April 1-Sept. 30 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to see this become a full-circle program,” Flanagan said. “You come in, you pick out your seeds, you go home and grow those seeds, and then bring us back seeds so we can add them back into our seed library. That's what this is all about. Trying to keep this going by donations and having people participate.”