Behind a red rope lies an old fashioned card catalog.
Herrick District Library Seed Library. Photo by Herrick District Library.

Start a Garden with Free Seeds from Herrick District Library

By Kathleen Schenck, with press release by Herrick District Library
March 7, 2019

Whether you have a windowsill, a balcony, a backyard or acres of land, it’s time to think about seeds.

Herrick District Library is here to help. For the second year in a row, the public library will offer a seed library: https://herrickdl.org/hdlseedlibrary. If you think about it, smart, savvy librarians curate an amazing collection of books and other media for the library. They surely are just as caring about seeds, which frees Hollanders from hours spent online ordering (and paying for!) sub-par seeds.

The library also offers how-to gardening workshops, also free (see information at end of press release).

Just think: homegrown juicy sweet tomatoes can be yours to share or devour as you see fit!

Here is the library’s press release, dated March 1, 2019.

A pair of hands searches through a drawer in the card catalog housing seed packets.
Card catalog of seeds! Photo by HDL.

Seed library sprouts success, returns to HDL

Spring is coming, believe it or not.

After its tremendously successful inaugural season, the Herrick District Library Seed Library is ready to help Holland’s gardens grow again.

This year, alongside all the tomatoes, peppers and flowers, the Seed Library will focus on a “core collection” of seeds paired with programs throughout the season to help ensure success.

The curated collection of core seeds will be released as it comes time to plant each variety.

Brandywine tomatoes and Amish snap peas will be released for the Seed Library’s 2019 kick off March 13. Tomato seeds should be started indoors, but snap peas can be planted directly outside after threat of frost has passed.

The Herrick District Library Book Bike will make an appearance in the Saturday, March 16, St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Holland where staff members will pass out pea seeds to the crowd.

On April 24, Dragontongue bush bean and Arikara sunflower seeds will be released. Filling out the planting season, cornfield pumpkin seeds will be released on May 30, so gardens around Holland will have HDL Seed Library core collection veggies growing all season long.

This year, the North Branch, 155 Riley St., will also have seeds available. Core collection seeds along with a few other rotating selections from the seed library will be available at the branch.

In its first year, the HDL Seed Library reached a broad spectrum of gardeners – from master gardeners to newbies who had never grown their own food before. The library gave out 6,000 packets of seeds. That’s more than 35,000 individual seeds.

This year, more than 80 different types of seeds donated by Holland gardeners will join the collection. The donations are mostly pollinator/bee-friendly seeds, Seed Library organizer Jen Boyers said.

“We’re starting to get into that loop of people growing, saving and bringing back seeds,” Boyers said.

To help them along that path, several programs will be spread throughout the season.

“We want to make sure everyone feels empowered to use the seed library – even beginners,” Library Assistant Hannah Gingrich said.

“Introduction to Seed Starting: Tomatoes” will kick it all off 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12. All materials will be provided, and participants will learn how to start heirloom tomato seeds indoors with Savannah Weaver of Windmill Island Gardens. Everyone will take home soon-to-be seedlings to plant in their gardens.

The Seed Library will officially open the next day. Wednesday, March 13, the North Branch and Advanced Master Gardener Shannon Campau will get the garden ready for the season. Anyone who wants to help can come to the North Branch, 155 Riley St., between 3 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 13.

Several other programs aim to help kids and adults, beginners and experts learn more about planting seeds and saving them for future seasons.

Heirloom tomato seeds received during last year’s launch program were taken to Windmill Island Gardens where a group learned to germinate, grow and save them. They had such success, they donated dozens of seeds back to the presenter and dozens to the HDL Seed Library.

There are hundreds of seed libraries across the country and the globe. The HDL seed library – housed in a converted card catalog – is one of the most successful of its kind in the state, Collections and Digital Resources Librarian Kelli Perkins said. Library patrons will again be able to check out five seed packets a day, but the checkout process and availability improved.

The HDL Seed Library’s motto is “Select, Learn, Grown, Return.”

Patrons can visit Herrickdl.org/HDLseedlibrary for tips and directions, visit the library and check out gardening books or attend any number of programs coming up later in the spring and summer. Those who want to volunteer to help sort donated seeds for the HDL seed library can email Boyers at seeds@herrickdl.org.

Herrick District Library is located at 300 S. River Ave. Herrick North Branch is located at 155 Riley St. For details, visit herrickdl.org/events or call 616-355-3100.

Seed packets lie atop a wooden table.
Seed packets. Photo by HDL.

Free Gardening Events:

WHAT Introduction to Seed Starting: Tomatoes

WHEN 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12

WHERE Herrick District Library District Library, 300 S. River Ave.

INFO All materials provided; start an heirloom tomato seed with Savannah Weaver of Windmill Island Gardens



WHAT North Branch Garden Cleaning Party

WHEN 3-6 p.m. Thursday, March 21

WHERE North Branch Garden, 155 Riley St.

INFO Drop-in program to get garden ready for season; participants get priority selection of garden plots; bring work gloves and pruners if possible



WHAT North Branch Book Club

WHEN 10 a.m. Saturday, March 23

WHERE Simpatico

INFO Book group will be discussing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver



WHAT Seed Starting Class for all ages

WHEN 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9

WHERE Holland Township Fire Station No. 1, 131 Riley St.

INFO Advanced Master Gardener Shannon Campau will explain the basics of gardening with a hands-on class that will benefit beginners and experts alike.



WHAT How Does Your Garden Grow? HDL Seed Series for Kids (5 years and older)

WHEN 4:30 p.m. Thursdays March 28 (peas); May 2 (lettuce); May 30 (beans)

WHERE Holland Township Fire Station No. 1, 131 Riley St.

INFO Advanced Master Gardener Shannon Campau will teach kids where plants and food come from. A story, STEAM challenge and seed planting will also be included.



WHAT Special Sunflower Storytime

WHEN 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 15

WHERE Herrick North Branch, 155 Riley Street

INFO Families will help plant a sunflower house, learn how plants grow and sow their own heirloom sunflower seed.