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Library sees big jump in demand for its seed program

More of us staying at home due to the pandemic led to an uptick in reading, which is perhaps not surprising, but it also prompted an increase in demand for a lesser-known Region of Waterloo Library (RWL) service: seeds.

As part of an expansion of its offerings – think movies, video games and the like – RWL launched a seed library in 2018. Use of the service skyrocketed last year as the pandemic lockdown set in.

The “seed stampede of 2020” was caused by a number of factors, with the pandemic simply being one of the biggest, says RWL manager of library services Sheryl Tilley.

“In 2020 our doors were closed in May, but we made seeds available online. And we had such a huge uptake from the community for our seed library online that we called it the seed stampede of 2020, because so many people requested seeds,” said Tilley. “All of a sudden there was an interest in sustainability when it came to food sources. I think people, because they were home more, took the opportunity to do [that]. Just like with people baking more being home during COVID, people were home to spend time gardening. I think there’s a certain amount of mental health, wellness and wellbeing associated with being outdoors, gardening and actually working with the soil. So, I think that it all works together to make it very popular last year.

“Also last year, it was the ease of availability because people just simply went online to our website and filled out the forms and requested seeds and we mailed them out. That was the only way we could distribute last year because we were totally shut down due to provincial pandemic guidelines.”

She says last year, the most popular and requested seeds included basil, beans, lettuce, cucumber and peppers, especially the hot kind.

Looking towards the new year of the seed library and beyond, Tilley says she hopes to see people get into the spirit of the service.

“We do hope that it becomes self-sustaining. We do hope that it deepens community ties, because people in the community will borrow seeds from the library, grow their gardens and bring the seeds back so it does indeed kind of [fall] on that circle of life. I love the idea that it’s a very visual [way] to putting down roots in a community by growing a garden. Not only does the library have the seeds to provide, we also have amazing gardening books to help people grow their horticultural knowledge,” Tilley added.

The online request form for the seed library launched for 2021 last week, remaining open until the end of April – or until supplies last.

Tilley says despite such a short window for online requests, the seed library is available year-round for even the winter gardener.

Click here for more information, or to take out some seeds for the spring planting season.

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