Heirloom Organic Garden Seeds Distribution Project

  • Location
    Millville and Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Status
  • Age Level
    Any Age

The Problem

Our R&S group would like to aid food insecurity and lack of greenspaces in low income families, many living without land for gardening but will have access to planters. The children of our group will lead the discussion about their patience with gardening duties, signs of ripeness and favorite recipes. We hope their guilelessness will ease the adults evaluation if it's worth their effort to even try gardening.

Our Plan

We plan to distribute our home-grown heirloom organic vegetable and herb seeds to our community at both a self-serve, indoor climate-controlled stationary table in a community space and at an annual community event. We will also provide information on the basics of gardening, cooking and preservation. We will use our group's R&S banner (that we got with a previous grant to have at our farmers market table where we shared info about native species) at our new event to share heirloom seeds.

Themes Addressed

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    Food Choices
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    Food Insecurity
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The Benefit

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Here is how the project went:

We have had success with our goals, just not the path we planned last autumn... After surveying our local community for interest in growing gardens (specifically starting from seeds), we realized we would have to invest a lot more time and money on inspiring and educating the community. Furthermore, we realized we could join forces with a local seed library and reach the target audience through their existing channels. They have an established non-profit 501c3 that has been around for 4 years, and has just started a podcast. So, we have invested in heirloom, non-gmo, organic seeds as well as tools, fertilizer and a tool for making fertilizer. I purchased bird netting to cover our existing bed of strawberries, and have harvested strawberry seeds to donate to the Bloom Seed Library. Next, I ordered and established a red wriggler worm farm that is beginning to provide castings. I have cultivated the new seeds and others from the seed library as well as some that I have saved for years. I plan on saving seeds from them all to donate to the Bloom Seed Library: Roma/Moskvich/Cherry/Purple Cherokee tomatoes, Bloomsdale spinach, French filet bean, Jade green bean, Teff, Sorghum, Thyme, Oregano, Spearmint, Cilantro, Garlic, Nettle, Daisy, Columbine, Pansy, Sugar snap pea, Asparagus, White clover, Cucumber, Blueberry, and Lima beans. A seed sorting tray to help separate the chaff from the seed was another good investment in equipment that we made. My family has invested in a top-bar beehive and has begun taking care of a colony to help increase pollination rates for the seeds. No R&S funds were used, just wanted to include the info for how dedicated we are to the effectiveness of the project. I've accepted the invitation to participate in Bloom Seed Library podcast, and will also use the Bloomsburg R&S's FB page to coordinate with others to achieve the goal of establishing more food security, more pollinators, native species and greenspaces in our community. Next year, I would like to provide some of the special envelopes that are required by the state to distribute the seeds to the community. Furthermore, I'd like to grow more nutritious beans and grains for the community.

Through this project I/we learned:

Allying with an established non-profit seed distribution club is more effective than attempting to motivate and educate the community about gardening. Purchasing tools and fertilizer was helpful in the short term; purchasing and maintaining a tool to make fertilizer has been helpful in the long term. Investing in the equipment to organize and label the seeds is vital for the process.

What I/we might change:

We would've collaborated to donate to the Bloom Seed Library from the beginning, instead of trying to do it all ourselves in our smaller community.

My/our favorite part of this project was:

Donating the seeds! It also feels wonderful to go back to the seed library later and seed our variety of seed packed into tiny envelopes ready for distribution.

Some tips, tricks or fun facts about the project:

If you're going to operate a seed library, we've found that having good communication between the growers is helpful for ensuring a diversity of seeds. Also, sharing tools and techniques for pest control and camaraderie is uplifting for the normal struggles of agriculture.

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