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Extension offers Seed Bank program at local public libraries

Photos courtesy of the Cooperative Extension: Instructor of the Seed class Katie Oakes (far right) stands with the Scofill family – Mark, Bessie, Isaac and Ruth.

Posted 24 April 2019 at 11:25 am

Press Release, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension

KNOWLESVILLE – Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans County launched its new Seed Bank program on Tuesday at the Lee-Whedon Memorial Library in Medina.

The program kicks off with Seed Starting classes offered at Hoag Library in Albion today at noon, the Yates Community Garden in Lyndonville on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. and at the Community Free Library in Holley next Wednesday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m.

Katie Oakes, Horticulture Educator at Orleans County CCE, came up with the idea for the program over dinner one night with her husband.

“Our CCE Association had received this huge donation of seeds last season, more than we could ever possibly plant or sell for our internal programs,” she said. “So my husband and I started brainstorming ways that we could get these seeds into the hands of our community members.”

The Seed Bank that will remain in the library with free seeds for the public.

Traditional Seed Banks usually function on the idea that people who take seeds will grow them, save them, and bring new seeds back to replenish the bank after the growing season. But seed saving can be tricky, and often when there’s an obligation for follow-up it can deter people from even participating at all. So Oakes designed her Seed Banks with the intention that all seeds will be free to anyone as long as supplies last.

“The bottom line is that I wanted these seeds to be grown,” she said. “And more importantly, I’m hoping they might be grown by people who perhaps have never grown anything before.  This is a low-cost way to try vegetable gardening for the first time.”

She’s hoping that these free seeds might encourage people in Orleans County to try their hand at growing their own food.

The Seed Starting class on Tuesday night at Lee-Whedon was attended by local families and individuals looking for guidelines for starting seeds at home and gardening in general.

“We have been gardening on our own for a few years, and we came tonight for any tips and to see if we’re doing it right,” said Heather Calder of Shelby.

The Get Growing – Seed Starting classes go over the basics for starting seeds at home, from supplies needed to light and moisture requirements. The classes follow a presentation format and then Oakes opened the program to an informal question and answer sessions. Afterward, participants were able to browse through seeds to take home.

“We feel inspired to try some new plants and maybe even attempt indoor gardening,” Bessie Scofill remarked after the class.  She attended the class with her husband Mark and their two children Ruth and Isaac.

Following the Seed Starting classes, the Seed Banks will be left behind in each library through the 2019 growing season for patrons to select seeds that they can take and start at home.  Oakes will restock the Seed Banks as needed as long as there are seeds available.

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