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By Michael Uhila                                                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Posted on Sunday, April 24, 2011  
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Explaining the Seed Library    Visiting the Seed Library
                                                           Photos by Michael Uhila
-  Click images to enlarge.

                                  These photos show some of the people and activities which took
                                  place during the official opening of the seed library on Earth Day,
                                  April 22, at the East Palo Alto Library

Video by the East Palo Alto Library
Double click image
to enlarge or click here.


Do you want to plant it, grow it and eat it? If you do, then the East Palo Alto Library is the place to go. In celebrating Earth Day on Friday, April 22, the East Palo Alto Library opened a seed library. Now the library is certainly the place where you can get information as to what to plant, how to plant and how to grow what you've planted. Believe it or not, you can even get free seeds from the library that you can take home and actually put in the ground to grow.

The idea for offering real seeds in the library, available for take out, was the joint brainchild of Kris Jensen, the executive director of Collective Roots, an East Palo Alto nonprofit, and Patrick Sweeney, the branch manager of the East Palo Alto Library, which is located in East Palo Alto at 2415 University Avenue.

Jensen and Sweeney had separate goals that overlapped. Jensen said that he wanted to increase the number of East Palo Alto residents in the Backyard Gardeners Network and Sweeney wanted to make sure that the city’s library continued to be a resource for everybody.

Now because of their two combined goals, the patrons of the East Palo Alto Library can check out free seeds that they can plant, grow and eat.

During the opening of the seed library, there were pictures that showed that East Palo Alto has fertile soil that produces lemons, persimmons, roses, pears, sunflowers, cilantro, and lavender. The East Palo Alto library has seeds for all of these plants.

Not only can library visitors plant the seeds that they get and eat what they’ve sowed, but they can also sell their produce at the East Palo Alto Farmers’ Market. It became apparent from displays at the opening of the seed library that when people grow their own vegetables, they can easily see how much money they can save by not going to a grocery store to buy fruits and vegetables. From the seed display it was easy to conclude that people add to the beauty of the earth by growing something that lives.

The library set up a special book display to accompany its seed collection, which guides home gardeners on what to plant, how to plant, what to grow and how to grow it. The books are also available to be checked out.

It is recommended that those interested in checking out seeds can look at binders in the book display and take the following steps:
1. Refer to seed chart in binder to help determine which seeds to plant.
2. Find the seed packet in the library.
3. Take 5-10 seeds out of the seed packet and place in stamped seed envelope.
4. Write any important information on seed envelope.
(variety, depth, height, spacing, watering etc.)
5. Use the sign-out sheet to “check out” the seeds.
6. Plant, grow and eat.

The book display is in sequential order, so if one forgets the above steps, the book display is a good guide. Of course, the librarians are also there to help.

Larry Moody, an East Palo Alto resident who is a former member of the Ravenswood City Board of Trustees, attended the opening of the seed library and walked through the steps to check out seeds. Moody expressed his satisfaction with what he saw.

It is to be noted that there was a sign-up sheet near the seed collection that was already filled up, even before the seed library was officially opened.

Home gardeners can get added gardening assistance from Collective Roots, which provides different gardening tools, along with cooking classes, a six-week gardening class and access to a local East Palo Alto greenhouse.

If nothing else, East Palo Alto’s new seed library sent an important message to all gardeners, aspiring organic growers and all fruit and vegetable lovers, who are tired of those middlemen like Safeway and Whole Foods.

The seed library lets people know that they have no excuse, because now they know where to go, if they want to plant it, grow it and eat it.

For more information about the East Palo Alto library, readers can visit www.smcl.org and they can visit www.collectiveroots.org for more information about Collective Roots.

To contact Michael Uhila, the author of the above article, email muhila@epatoday.org.


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