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Seed library sprouts at Hampshire College library

Students can check out packets of fruit and vegetable seeds
University Business, April 2014
Hampshire College librarian Jennifer King, student Sarah Jayne Klucken and science librarian Thea Atwood look through the seed catalog.
Hampshire College librarian Jennifer King, student Sarah Jayne Klucken and science librarian Thea Atwood look through the seed catalog.

In western Massachusetts, Hampshire College students are “checking out” packets of fruit and vegetable seeds from the library to grow in pots on their patios and in community gardens. They will harvest new seeds from their plants to replenish the library’s collection.

The idea came from student Hannah Haskell’s research on seed libraries elsewhere, says Library Director Jennifer King. Hampshire’s collection, stored in an old card catalog and currently featuring a dozen easy-to-harvest plants, may be the first of its kind in an academic library. The collection may someday serve as a local seeds archive to help maintain diversity of food sources, King says.“Libraries right now are pushing boundaries more than ever.”

Science Librarian Thea Atwood adds that the project also is meant as a learning opportunity for students who may never have grown their own food before. And no, she says, students will not be fined if their plants die before producing seeds to return.

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