When LeAnn Kunz started the Washington Public Library’s seed exchange five years ago, it was with the motto “take a packet, leave a packet.” Though the motto hasn’t really stuck, Kunz hopes to see more people leaving donations for the season so others can take to gardening.
Right now, the box she stores the seeds in is mostly empty after the winter months when donations run dry. She’s only gotten a few donations for this year so far.
“The ones that donate are the people who are savers,” said Kunz, referring to gardeners and farmers who go out of their way to collect seeds from their plants. “Luckily they have an overabundance and are willing to share and often donate in bulk.”
A patron recently dropped off a bag of field corn which Kunz will repack into smaller packages for the seed exchange, which people can take up to two packets from. While bulk donations like this often help carry the collection through the months it’s open, Kunz would like to see more diversity of donations in both the seeds they receive and the people they get them from. Squash and pumpkin seeds are already regularly found in the collection due to how many the plants produce, but any kind of seed whether edible or ornamental is welcome.
“We love to have a huge variety of seeds and want to encourage people to garden in the community,” Kunz said. She hopes that people will come by the seed library to try something new. Kunz herself is a gardener and finds joy in watching others take an interest in the hobby.
“I’m always amazed at the kids who will come in and be really curious,” she said. “Every year they have that curiosity to say, ‘I might try that,’ to put some in a pot or put some in the ground.”
Though Kunz hasn’t necessarily seen the hobby take off yet with the people who borrow seeds from the collection, she feels the experience of tending to the soil and growing something is one everyone should have.
“I think there’s something magical when you first see something come out of the ground,” said Kunz. “When you see those first little green sprouts it’s exciting, it’s magical, and to be able to pass that on to kids is great.”