At Little Free Libraries in Sudbury, seeds on offer alongside books
Volunteers with the Sudbury Community Garden Network are giving out free 'starter kits' of seeds
At some Little Free Libraries in Sudbury, you can now find more than just books. The outdoor cupboards have cropped up in many communities over the last number of years, welcoming people to take a book, or leave books for others.
Several Sudbury locations are now stocked with bags of seeds — meant for anyone interested in growing their own food amid the pandemic.
The idea of distributing seed "started kits" first arose after news that community gardens had not been declared essential by the province and could not open — a decision that was recently reversed.
"We were trying to figure out how we could get people in Sudbury to not miss the gardening season," said Rachelle Rocha, a volunteer with the Sudbury Community Garden Network, the group behind the kits.
The distribution first began by pickup at Seasons Pharmacy and Culinary, where Rocha works.
"The little libraries came in because well, there's only one Seasons Pharmacy, and it's on Lorne Street. If we wanted to get seeds to other parts of the city, how else could we do it?" Rocha said.
Last week, volunteers started filling a little library on Brenda Drive in the south end, loading it with 30 bags of seeds each day. Since then, they've expanded to a little library in Coniston, as well as one at the corner of John and Paris Streets.
Rocha says the reception, both at the Pharmacy, and now at the little libraries, has been "overwhelming."
"We see 30 to 40 people a day here for seeds. And the little house I think was also sold — I'm going to call it 'sold out' — but, depleted within about an hour I think."
Many first-time gardeners
While some people are long-time gardeners, Rocha estimates about a third of the people picking up seeds are new to gardening.
"We give a lot of gardening which is kind of funny for a pharmacy to be doing. But we've been growing things for a long time, so we're really happy to share our knowledge," Rocha said.
Each package of seeds also includes information about online gardening resources.
Rocha is glad to see the interest in people growing their own food — something she sees as part of a larger trend during the pandemic.
"We've seen a whole surge of people making their own bread. … We've had sourdough starter here (at the pharmacy) and it keeps flying off the shelves."
Rocha hopes the starter kits will allow access for people who might not be able to afford to buy seeds. And with so many new gardeners picking up seeds, Rocha hopes the group will continue to share guidance and build community in the months ahead.
"The seed sharing is one and the planting of it is one, but you know we're going to be getting into eating and harvesting and preserving as the season progresses."