Master Gardner Angie Faulkner has a passion for saving seeds, so it isn’t surprising that she was the driving force behind the founding of the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Seed Library—a community-sustained resource where gardeners can share their successes, skills, and, of course, seeds.
The Seed Library is located in the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library (151 Polk St., Harpers Ferry, WV) and is available with your library card. Just come in to the library during its regular hours and ask for the Seed Library.
People have become increasingly interested in knowing where their food is coming from, leading to a substantial uptick in home gardens. They want to grow something other than the boring, identical veggies and fruit found in supermarkets that are raised for shape, color, and ease of shipping rather than flavor.
Faulkner was frustrated by the prevalence of patented hybrid seeds and lack of access to heirloom varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. In the past, there were thousands of plant varieties that were developed in specific areas in response to local growing conditions.
“They are our ancestral heritage—the open-pollinated heirlooms our ancestors developed,” she said. “These were the seeds traded between neighbors over the backyard fence—that was the only way you could get them.”
One goal of the Seed Library is to create a base of things that grow well in this area. “We want to build up a collection of Appalachian and mid-Atlantic seeds and discover the best varieties for our mid-Atlantic climate,” Faulkner added.
The Seed Library was founded last year, and this past January, they held their first community seed swap. “At present, we have a base of about ten contributors, and about thirty people used the Seed Library last year,” she noted. “We’re off to a good start, and we hope to increase. More people are saving seeds. We’ve got lots of rare seeds. Right now, the largest numbers are tomatoes and peppers.”
Faulkner also indicated that another advantage of having a local seed library is as a backup. If a gardener has lost a crop of heirloom vegetables to insects, weather, or other problems, they will have a place to find replacement seeds.
Visitors of the Seed Library can browse through binders with pictures and information of vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and take home some seeds. All seeds come with instructions on when, where, and how to plant them, complete descriptions of the plants, and all have been tested for germination.
Educational programs are an important service of the Seed Library as well. The website has illustrated instructions on the best methods for saving some popular seeds, how to do germination testing, and how to grow small-scale indoor gardens of greens. Short, hands-on classes on seed saving and growing will also be offered at the Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library.
— Library Hours —
Mon-Tues & Fri-Sat: 10am–5:30pm
Weds & Thurs: 10am-8pm
Closed SundaysBy Claire Stuart