Start a garden with EPL’s seed library

Stretching food dollars. Building sustainable communities. Elkhart Public Library’s new seed garden makes growing fresh herbs and produce easier.

Lindsey Caterina, community wellness coordinator for Purdue Extension Elkhart County, says seed libraries help bridge food insecurity and bring nutrition to home gardeners.

“There’s definitely food deserts around Elkhart County where fresh produce is not available (or) is not of quality,” she says. “A goal is to help people become self-sufficient.

“(Seed libraries) help people be more informed about the food they eat and make better decisions around it,” she says.

When people grow their own vegetables, they save money and eat better at home.

“A package of basil can be $3 for just a little bit at the store. But you could grow an herb garden and use what you need over and over,” Lindsey says. “It’s about going from garden to table.”

While planning the seed library, reference librarian Carmen Clark reached out to Lindsey for advice. Carmen says she wants to help people eat better or start a new hobby.

“One of the goals is to encourage new gardeners,” she says. “Plus people can grow and eat their own vegetables and have healthier options.”

The seeds were donated from Seed Savers Exchange, a seed bank in Iowa that distributes heirloom seeds to nonprofits.

Seed libraries offer other benefits, Lindsey says, such as helping the plants adapt to the local climate and become more resistant to disease and other problems over time.

“I’m excited for Elkhart Public Library to have one, I think it will build a community around it,” Lindsey says. 

Seed packets for vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers are free to the community at the Downtown library on the second floor.

Books on home gardening are nearby to make the most of the seeds. Then, find a cookbook to turn the harvest into a delicious side or main dish.

Seeds will be available on an ongoing basis.