Feel free to toss this new library item in the dirt.

I’ve always liked public libraries. They are a great place to gain a significant amount of information through books, magazines, newspapers, film and audio recordings, as well as a fairly quiet place to just sit back and relax while enjoying some fiction.

But who says information is the only thing a library can lend? There is a national trend happening right now involving public libraries across the nation that I am really happy about. It’s called seed lending. A recent article in the Duluth News Tribune reported that the Duluth (Minnesota) Public Library will soon begin lending heirloom seeds from fruit and vegetable plants to people in the community.

The library’s goals are to foster healthier eating and to increase the number of locally-grown plants that are traditionally adapted to the Northland. The library is partnering with other local organizations on this project, including the Institute for a Sustainable Future, the Duluth Community Garden Program and the St. Louis County Master Gardeners.

The library asks only that borrowers return some of the resulting seeds from the plants they grow to the library collection bank. And that’s the best thing about this program. All the seeds that the library lends will be for open-pollinated plants best suited for the northern growing season.

Heirloom plants have lineages not affected by hybridization, which reduces diversity in favor of consistency of a few select traits. In addition to the seeds, borrowers from the Duluth library will have access to educational materials and classes pertaining to gardening and seed saving.

There must be close to 100 such seed-lending libraries across the country by now. I’m not a particularly trendy guy, but this is a trend that I can get onboard with.

How about you? If your local library were to offer free seeds for you to use and then replenish with the seeds from the resulting vegetables and fruits that you would grow, would you get involved? What types of seeds do you think you might want to borrow? Do you think highly enough of this idea to mention it to someone who works at your local library?

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