Garden Starter Kits – a potential supplementary source for food in your backyard

When Tracey Payne, the LINK garden coordinator received vegetable garden seeds, she planted a few for the community garden and still had a large amount of seed packets left with her. Instead of throwing them away, she started working on a project for the community, with the help of the local public library.

In a partnership between the Link Garden & Greenhouse, Burns Lake Community Garden Society and the Burns Lake Public Library, vegetable garden starter kits are being distributed by the library for the community, to start planting and gardening their own stock of vegetables. The seeds were sorted and packaged by the library staff and made ready for distribution during the library’s curbside service.

“Burns Lake Public Library closed its doors to the public on Wednesday, March 18. Most of our resources are still available to the public, even though our doors are closed. As of Tuesday, March 24, we initiated our Curbside Service,” said Monika Willner, Library Director of the Burns Lake Public Library. The curbside service essentially includes calling ahead and reserving your books and now the seed packets as well, to be picked up by the curb, at a predetermined time slot.

Payne hopes that this project will help those who don’t have enough finances, especially when the seeds are free of charge and available so conveniently through the library. “With this project, we are just trying to help people feel better and a little bit more in control of the situation.”

Payne informed that last Fall, the Community Garden Society received a donation of seeds from the Real Canadian Superstore. She also added that usually during other years, the community garden used to take the seeds to organic gardening day, a local seed swap event and just distributed the seeds to people for free. This year however, the social distancing measures for COVID-19 mean that having such an event won’t be possible. In addition to the seed donation to the Garden Society, Payne received a large donation of seeds from Alberta. She then reached out to local farmers Bob and Rosanne Murray at Wild Thyme Farm, on the Southside of Francois Lake, who donated seed potatoes.

“It will probably be about $30-$40 worth of seeds in each package, for free. There will be basic garden seeds for carrots, squash, corn, radishes, lettuce, beans, peas and seed potatoes,” said Payne.

The library staff was able to put together 52 such packages from the seeds and within four hours of launching the program on Tuesday April 28, 2020, Willner said that around one third kits were claimed by people. The library is also planning to launch smaller sets for children.

“We feel this is a great time for the younger ones to learn something about growing their own food. It’s a fantastic science project,” said Willner. The library will include some fun activities with the seeds for the kids and make these kits available in a few weeks. “As a library, we always try to include opportunities where literacy skills can be developed while having fun. With many children learning from home, this can be a great educational opportunity,” she added.

Both, Payne and Willner are hoping that the garden project is received well by the community. The packets that don’t get claimed, will go into the seeds library that the library maintains and Willner believes that the garden starter project’s popularity will prove to be helpful in promoting the seed library. Willner however doesn’t have a timeline in mind when it comes to the garden starter project.

“We do not have a time frame for this project. Ideally, the seed program will continue until every seed we have, finds its way into the hands of excited gardeners, ready to start their growing season,” said Willner

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