A new kind of library has sprouted up in Cork this month, as gardeners from across the city will be able to borrow, sow and return seeds to a diverse collection of species, as well as pass on planting tips to fellow growers.
A Seed Library was launched last weekend (24 September) in Hollyhill Library, already stocked with seeds from the Brown Seed Envelope Company in Skibbereen, purchased by Cork Food Policy Council.
Gardeners can visit the library full of vegetables, fruit and flower seeds, to “Borrow, Sow, and Return”, as the motto of the seed library goes. Seeds can be borrowed, crops planted, and when plants begin to sprout their own seeds they can be harvested and returned to the library for the next green-thumbed borrower.
Deputy Lord Mayor Damien Boylan launched the seed library on Saturday, which is housed in a repurposed old card index cabinet secured from the central library in the Grand Parade.
Gardeners from Currabinny, Togher, Niche, Glanmire, Parkowen, St Lukes and Douglas Community Gardens and more, turned out to the launch, eager to lend and borrow seeds, and listen to a demonstration from horticulturalist Ellie Donovan on how to harvest different seeds.
Green Spaces Coordinator Maria Young said that part of the seed library’s purpose is to protect heritage seeds, and also “provide a hub for gardeners across Cork to share and swap seeds and help each other out”.
It is hoped that the seed bank will be able to provide species not always available at local seed shops, and ones with proven track records of thriving in Cork’s climate.
Ms Young said that as community gardens around Cork are collecting and drying seeds, the library is an “ongoing operation”.
“We will be replenishing the seed library up until this year’s crop of seed is housed safely,” she said.
Elizabeth McNamara, head librarian at Hollyhill library, said she jumped at the opportunity to start this library when it was first proposed by Green Spaces for Health and the Cork Food Policy Council.
The library has purchased new books on seed harvesting and commissioned artist Tom Campbell to paint a mural around the seed area.