‘Seed Library’ Giving North Texans Healthy Eating Nudge: Check It Out!

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DALLAS (CBS11) – Even in urban areas, the healthy eating, garden-to-table trend is really picking up steam. So some Dallas Main Library staffers decided to give patrons a little push, by providing free seeds along with information and resources.

“Like these mustards here—they were grown by a local grower,” explained Catherine Gilman, pulling a small brown packet out of a neatly organized wooden cabinet that once held library card catalogs. It seems appropriate, somehow, that the catalogs that were replaced by computers are helping bring North Texans back to their backyard gardening roots.

“Anyone can come into the library and check out seeds—there’s no limit, we just ask that you don’t take more than you need,” said Gilman.

Gilman, along with another library associate, Mark Draz, said they’d seen the ‘seed sharing’ idea spread around the country and thought it might just take root in Dallas.

“And whether you’ve got a balcony with pots on it or a huge backyard garden we have something that anyone can make use of,” said Gilman.

So the library colleagues put their idea to the test, and took it outside.

“Like this lettuce here, it’s easy to save seeds from those,” explained Draz. Several colleagues from the Dallas Main Library pitched in to plant a couple of plots in a downtown community garden. “We got the seeds from the seed library, planted the lettuce, and hopefully at the end of the season we’ll be able to save some seeds to bring back.”

Patrons who “borrow” seeds are encouraged to let some of the plants go to seed and return some to restock the library at some point, but it’s not required. Seed companies also made donations to help launch the effort. And it’s already paying off—at least one local gardener has returned to show off a unique cucumber grown from the ‘seed library’ offerings.

“That was really exciting,” said Gilman. “It was kind of validating that this was a good idea and something that works. He (the gardener) was really happy, and so were we.”

Both Gilman and Draz freely admit that they’re novice gardeners, but insist that libraries are made to match interests with information. And getting to grow your own lunch?

“It feels great,” Draz conceded with a laugh. “Feels like we’re taking that information and putting it into a concrete use and creating something good in the world. Information is useless unless it’s applied and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

For now, the seed library is only available at Dallas’ Main library. But, those interested in checking some out, had better hurry. Many old timers insist that the arrival of Good Friday means it’s time to get those plants in the ground!

“It really is turning out to be everything that I hoped for and more,” said Gilman.

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