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Seed library movement takes root in Maine to help locals access fresh produce

Seed libraries are popping up across the state, allowing folks to take any seeds with the swipe of a library card.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — Seed libraries are a simple concept: anyone in the community is able to visit their local participating library, snag seeds to grow in a home or community garden, and afterward, collect some seeds to return to the library for the next year. 

As more and more libraries here in Maine adopt their own program, its impact is not only helping gardens grow, but is allowing communities easy access to fresh produce. 

Director Lisa Ladd of the Buck Memorial Library in Bucksport got the idea of a seed library from her hometown in Vermont. After bringing a program back with her last year to the library, she's had an enthusiastic response from the community. 

"The more that we can provide free anything in this economy, we're one hundred percent behind it," Ladd said. 

So far, Ladd said she has given away enough seeds to feed 30 families. The response the library has gotten has been a proof of concept to now plant small gardens in front of the library, install a rainwater collector, and move forward with plans to implement a community garden sometime in the future. 

"It's a low-cost program, but we feel it has a really big impact in the community," Ladd added.

The Bangor Public Library, Waterville Public Library, and The Ellsworth Public Library have also implemented their own seed libraries. 

Librarian Renee McManus of Ellsworth Public Library said they have collaborated with local business Fedco Seeds to ensure the crops are native to Maine. 

"Seed swaps have been really popular in libraries, and so we really wanted to try it in our community," McManus said. "I think it's a good way to plant the seed to starting your own food and everything like that."

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