The Bowen Island Seed Library has come out of winter dormancy, and is freshly-stocked and ready to welcome spring! This particular Bowen Library collection doesn’t require a library card, but like all library collections it encourages returning what is borrowed. Now in its second year, the Seed Library has had an infusion of “returned” seed from those who “borrowed” last year, as individuals and groups have begun donating back seeds they’ve collected from plants they grew successfully—making this a truly collaborative community collection!
For instance, you’ll find over a hundred beautifully-decorated seed packets containing seeds gathered and packaged by young volunteers in the Bowen Island Community School Student Garden Club, who are regular contributors to the collection. Collins’ family farm heritage kale seeds, wild (perennial) arugula, hollyhock, lettuce, and pumpkin seeds are some of the seeds they grew, gathered, and returned for others to enjoy.
Jillian Rushton of the Bowen Gardeners Facebook groups (an active pair of discussion and buy/sell/trade groups for garden enthusiasts) also came by the Library with an assortment of saved and purchased seed. This year we also received generous donations from West Coast Seeds and Salt Spring Seeds, as well as two copies of the book “Saving Seeds” by Dan Jason of Salt Spring Seeds, now in the Bowen Library collection.
Many growers are planning their gardens now, and may not be thinking of seed saving just yet. However, those hardy winter-crop biennials that grew last summer and (hopefully) survived all that snow (kale and broccoli, for instance) will soon be putting out new leaves and then seeds this spring. When planning your garden for spring and summer annuals like lettuce, beans, and tomatoes, think about leaving a few strong plants in the soil to develop seed for saving in the summer and fall.
If you’re new to growing and saving seed, there are some great free local resources online, which you’ll find links to at bowenlibrary.ca/seedlibrary. While saving and re-donating seed is not a requirement of using the Seed Library, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn first-hand about food resiliency and sustainability. It also strengthens our seed stock on Bowen/Nexwlélexwm when growers save seeds from plants that survived our local weather, growing challenges, and wild friends (e.g. slugs, snails, and other hungry critters). And what’s more empowering and fuzzy-feeling-inducing than sharing hundreds of seeds you saved from just one lettuce plant?
Do you already have seeds to donate? Starting a new garden? Come by the Seed Library. It is made possible thanks to a collaboration between the Bowen Island Public Library and volunteers from Bowen Agricultural Alliance, the Bowen Island Community School Student Garden Club, and the Bowen Gardeners Facebook group — and of course thanks to the generous seed-saving gardeners of the island!