Could the library get any cooler?

And I’m not referring to air conditioning, though I must confess that is a undeniable perk to the public library right about now.

I’m talking about “even better” as in look what our head librarian Colleen allowed Sunday and me to set up!  Now along with checking out books, participating in excellent programs, paying overdue fines, and otherwise taking advantage of all the many services a library provides in a small town (and elsewhere), a patron can now bring in his/her unused seeds and take home something new in exchange.  As a garden coordinator, I receive all kinds of seed donations—far more than I could ever use.  Now I can share my leftovers with the community and feel free to experiment with different varieties from my neighbors.

Thanks Colleen!


Seed packet literacy

To continue with my pea-brained ideas….

For Wednesday’s garden class, I had the class plant a bed of peas.  Before we went out to the garden, we talked about “how to read a seed packet.” I copied the front and back of a packet and added questions around the perimeter.  This was our opening activity.


Notice how the students have to look closely for the information in order to answer the question.  To answer the question on trellises, they have to notice the adjective “self-supporting.”  To know what days we should expect a pea, they have to find the “days to maturity.”

Then I gave each child a different seed packet.  (I have lots, obviously.)  I then asked them to form a line across the room, based on the name of their flower/vegetable, in alphabetical order. They had to talk to each other and shuffle themselves, A to Z.  When they were in place, I asked them to read off their seed name, to see if we got it right!  Then we did it again, according to “days to maturity” with one end of the spectrum being the shortest, the other the longest.  It was fun to compare radishes at one end with onions at the other.


At that point, we had to get planting, but you could keep going with this game, having the kids line up according to planting depth, Latin names, months to plant, etc.  Each one will demonstrate the different needs of plants as well as help kids look closely at all that information on a seed packet.

If there must be fundraising in schools…

…we can probably agree that some fundraising projects are better than others. From experience, I tend to classify them as follows:  ones I detest, ones I can live with, and ones I can get excited about.

The Garden Club has recently tried out one that we can get behind wholeheartedly.  Called “Seeds to Grow,” the fundraiser is a packaged program for selling heirloom seeds through Seed Savers Exchange (SSE).  SSE is dedicated to “preserving our diverse but endangered garden heritage for future generations.”  In other words, they collect, sell and propagate seed varieties that could be lost because they are not the (very limited) ones that are grown commercially on a large scale and thus found in supermarkets.

In so doing, they also tell stories, thereby preserving our cultural and historic roots as well.  I opened to a random page of the catalogue for an example:

Cherokee Trail of Tears Black Bean:  Given to SSE in 1977 by the late Dr. John Wyche, SSE member from Hugo, Oklahoma.  Dr. Wyche’s Cherokee ancestors carried this bean over the Trail of Tears, the infamous winter death march from the Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma (1838-1839), leaving a trail of 4,000 graves.  Green 6 inch pods with purple overlay, shiny jet-black seeds……

Reading through the catalogue is a history lesson itself.  And the pictures!  Who knew the vast diversity of fruits, herbs, vegetables and flowers available for planting?  Not many people, turns out, so we like the idea that our garden can be a vehicle for introducing this important idea/movement.  Year after year, I’d like to see our school not only promote this sale at our school but also in our larger community.

I also like it because it is user-friendly.  The brochure introduces six collections, each with four seed packets. (For example, there is a “Big Salad Bowl” collection with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers and radishes.)  Each collection of four packets costs $10.  You remit $6 per packet; you retain $4.  Colorful and well-laid out brochures are available.  People pay for the seeds with a check to your school, you later send one check to SSE, and you receive the packets quickly. (I’m delivering orders this week.)  And they are adorable!  (Note: this fundraiser could be run by any group, although it fits in nicely with garden projects!)

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