Culture Perth & Kinross Libraries and Perthshire Organic Gardeners have launched a new community initiative which aims to increase sustainability as well as health & wellbeing.
The Perthshire Seed Library enables members to share open-pollinated seeds that suit local growing conditions, access information about gardening and sustainability, and enjoy positive health & wellbeing benefits.
The joint venture was the brainchild of Culture Perth & Kinross Libraries Chief Executive, Helen Smout who tasked Library Development Officer Kirsty Brown with bringing the idea to life. The Seed Library now has over 40 members with word of mouth encouraging more and more people to join.
The initiative has strong ties with Forward: Scotland’s Public Library Strategy 2021-2025 which is rooted in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Perthshire Seed Library members pay an annual membership of £5 which entitles them to a minimum of six seed packets and covers training sessions, talks from experts and author and literary events. Members have access to a vast range of vegetable, flower and herb seed varieties which are known to grow well locally.
Twice a year, in January and August, members are sent out an inventory of the seeds available. They can then select the varieties they would like and which local library branch they would like to collect their seeds from. As Culture Perth & Kinross Libraries use the Spydus Library Management System, they can easily note who is a member of the seed library. A regular newsletter, as well as a mix of online and in-person events, also ensures members are kept up-to-date with the latest library developments.
Library Development Officer Kirsty Brown explained: “Before I started on this project, I was really unaware of the potential of seed libraries. It’s not just about handing in seeds. It’s maintaining the heritage of local seed varieties, learning about the sustainability of food, sharing knowledge, and enjoying the literature connection with nature and of course the health and wellbeing of the local community.
“This has been very much a joint project with the Perthshire Organic Gardeners society from the beginning and the connection we have forged with our volunteers and the local community has been fantastic. It’s been great to work so closely with them.”
In 2021 Kirsty contacted the Glasgow Seed Library affiliated with the Centre for Contemporary Arts. The organisation was able to explain the process and potential opportunities for the new seed library to explore. This led to Kirsty getting in touch with Perthshire Organic Gardeners and planning of the new library began in earnest.
In October 2021 the partnership was granted £5000 worth of funding from the Perth & Kinross Council’s Community Investment Fund which helped with marketing, packaging, and a soft launch of the project in November last year. Interest in the Library is now gaining momentum and plans for regular events throughout 2022 are now well underway.
Kirsty said: “Perthshire Organic Gardeners have been invaluable and knew exactly how to go about setting up the seed library. We have combined our knowledge to make the most of this opportunity and are delighted with both the interest shown so far and the progress we’ve made. It’s a project still very much in its infancy and has so much potential for the community.
“We had a soft launch in November as we didn’t want to become victims of our own success, but the response has been fantastic. We have a Facebook group up and running and are now working on a programme of events for the coming year. We’re looking at events on everything from how to compost and bee pollination to plant & literacy events, a talk from a local poet and even possible workshops with a local chef to share their recipe ideas.”
With the Perthshire Seed Library now up and running, there are plans to promote the many benefits of membership to local groups such as Bloom, Gardening and Allotment societies. The library also plans to kick off the year by organising an event on Seed Saving and Composting.
Kirsty added: “This has been an amazing project to work on and I’m delighted with the project. We’ve been really enthused by all the positive comments about the library and plan on building on this amazing start throughout the year."