The Growing Community Friday ALT’s group was able to visit the “Grow Flagstaff” Seed Library during our weekly hours. The Coconino County Cooperative Extension office not only is home to the seed library, but also has a bus stop garden right outside the building.
The seed library itself is a neatly organized set of 54 wooden drawers, that hold individual envelopes full of mostly localized seeds. Seeds in dark, dry, and cool environments like this are more apt to survive for longer period of time, and it was noted that the Seed Bank organizers have plans to store excess seeds in a small refrigerator so they last even longer.
A seed library sends a message to the community of Flagstaff that growing is possible, even with increased elevation, and that we can come together to make growing non-GMO, localized plants, more accessible to the entire city. Grow Flagstaff encourages citizens to borrow seeds, grow them in their own gardens, and then save seeds from their plants that are more diverse and localized to Flagstaff climate/soil. There is no penalty for not being able to save your seeds though, which makes the process a lot more welcoming for beginner gardeners who may not have any seed saving experience. Every gardener will have a different experience with their borrowed seeds, and each plant that has saved seeds will have its own story. Members of Grow Flagstaff have the opportunity of sharing that plants story, so that the next person who grows their seeds will be able to connect more to the growth of their plants community history.
In order to check out seeds, a community member would just have to complete a couple of steps. First, filling out a membership form in their Grow Flagstaff binder will allow you access to the entire variety of seeds in their library. However when you do check out seeds, there is a limit of five packets of seeds per visit. Next, signing in to the logbook located on the front desk is important so that they have public record of the amount of community members who are using the library.
The bus stop garden outside of the extension office was beautiful, harboring a wide variety of plants (such as kale, tomatillos, tomatoes, etc). With its close proximity to public transportation and an elementary school, the whole community has great access to the garden. They even encourage those who may need food or want to get into gardening to eat some of the produce from their garden beds. Anything that is not consumed from the garden goes to seed, and then is stored in new envelopes for the library.
Growing localized seeds that have been shared throughout the community is a very special experience each gardener can have. Flagstaff is lucky to have such an amazing seed library, and if you would like to get involved with Grow Flagstaff Seed Library, you can get more information and updates on their facebook page:
By: Kaelyn Gavin and Madelyn Norstrem