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Seed library harvests new community partnership

Newcastle Libraries will harvest the flourishing momentum for home vegetable gardens with the launch of the City’s first free Seed Library today.


One of the unexpected outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a national surge in the number of people growing their own fresh herbs and vegetables at home.

Newcastle Libraries will help cultivate this trend further by offering a variety of free seeds that residents can ‘borrow’ from the library to plant in their own gardens.

Residents will be encouraged to share in the fruits of each other’s labour by returning seeds from their ensuing harvest to the library in order to help re-stock and expand the collection.

Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen said the Newcastle Seed Library was an innovative community partnership project that would continue to flourish and grow as more people became involved.

“Gardening is a fantastic pastime with many benefits for your physical and mental health and wellbeing,” Cr Clausen said.

“Growing your own vegetables is also a fantastic way to teach children about the life cycle of plants, while learning new seed-saving skills yourself. The best thing is you don’t need a huge amount of space to get started, with many of the plants able to be grown in pots.

"City of Newcastle already has for years been collaborating with residents to successfully establish community gardens throughout the local government area. The Seed Library initiative takes that support one step further by offering free, easy to grow seeds that locals can take and plant in their own gardens.”

The Newcastle Seed Library will start with certified organic varieties including basil, tomato, zucchini, pumpkin and bush bean.

Manager Libraries and Learning Suzie Gately said residents were encouraged to stay involved beyond their initial library ‘loan’ by returning their own seeds to share with the community. “Our motto is ‘borrow and grow, harvest and share’.

Newcastle Libraries members are invited to take home the free seeds for their garden, grow and return the same variety after harvest, and add other varieties of seeds to the library too,” Ms Gately said.

“Sharing seeds through the Newcastle Seed Library will help preserve rare, tasty and historical varieties for gardeners in our community, while the return of successful seeds will allow us to develop a collection adapted to local conditions.”

The Seed Library is being piloted at Wallsend Library from 6 October, with additional branches to potentially be added depending on demand.

Locals will be encouraged to subscribe to the Newcastle Seed Library newsletter for free seed saving tips, while tutorials on the Newcastle Libraries website and regular free seed saving workshops will help them build skills and confidence to grow from seed.

Pictured above: Hunter Multicultural Communities Garden coordinator Margaret Kenning, Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen, Hunter Multicultural Communities CEO Annette Gebhardt and Alex Mills Manager of Community Programs and Partnerships City of Newcastle Libraries join together at Hunter Multicultural Communities Garden for the launch of the Newcastle Seed Library

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