New seed library opens in Bowling Green

Mary Anne Fox teachers members of the community how to make plant pots from newspapers during the opening of the county’s first seed library at the Kirby Branch Library on March 30. Organized and started by Laura Beth Fox-Ezell, people can come to the library and check out up to five different types of seeds to try and grow and are encouraged to donate seeds for others to use.

Olivia Mohr

On March 30, patrons and two speakers giving presentations gathered at the Bob Kirby branch of the Warren County Public Library for the opening night of the branch’s seed library, a project initiated by Laura Beth Fox-Ezell. The main branch of Warren County Public Library located downtown also opened a seed library. Its official opening was April 3.

Fox-Ezell is the educational delivery services coordinator for the library, and she goes out into the community to schools and day cares to deliver books. She explained how the seed library will work. Patrons are free to visit the seed library during normal library hours. They are allowed to check out up to five seed packets per person per day by signing seeds out of the seed library.

They are stored in an old-fashioned card catalog organized by seed type. Patrons are encouraged to plant the seeds, so they cannot return the original seeds to the library. Because of this, they are encouraged to save the seeds from the plants they harvest and return them to the library.

“We hope to encourage and inspire them to start growing on their own, and we also hope to encourage the idea of seed saving,” Fox-Ezell said. Fox-Ezell hopes the seed library will encourage people in the community to start doing their own gardening and adopt more sustainable practices. 

Fox-Ezell received her undergraduate degree in history and social studies from WKU and is working to receive her master’s degree in library science at the University of Kentucky. She is interested in gardening, but that’s not why she decided to start the seed library.

“I wanted to increase people’s access to new things through library services in the community, so this is another expansion of a new way for a library to serve its community, and I felt we had a need for that here,” she said. 

She and the group who helped her set up the seed library received three seed grants from large companies who donated a lot of seeds to help them get started, and they received seed donations from members of the community.

“The input has been wonderful and unexpected, and it’s very cool to see all the people who want to be part of this project and want to contribute their seeds,” Fox-Ezell said.

Fox-Ezell’s sister Mary Anne Fox presented at the Bob Kirby branch’s opening night with Thomas Murphy. Fox and Murphy are both WKU seniors majoring in horticulture. Fox is from Bowling Green and Murphy is from Louisville.

They presented on the basic ways seeds work, the growing and germination process and information on seed starting. They also helped patrons make biodegradable paper pots in which to start their seeds to transfer into their gardens.

“My goal in speaking was to help people feel more comfortable when it comes to planting seeds,” Fox said. “It can be a really overwhelming thought, starting a garden or starting to plant, so I was hoping to help them realize that it can actually be a really simple process, especially if they start small, with only a few vegetables.”

Fox feels it is important that people learn to grow their own food.

“I think it’s really important for people to have experience growing things,” she said. “I think it adds a healthy perspective on their lives. If you’re taking care of plants, it can be refreshing and rejuvenating to have a living thing to care for. I think it’s especially awesome if people are growing their own food.” 

Hannah Loyd lives in Bowling Green, and she attended the Bob Kirby branch’s opening night of the seed library. She feels the seed library will have a large impact on the community.

“I think it’s just so important to really get to know your food and know where your food is coming from, and if you have the opportunity to get seeds locally for free and start growing your own food, I think that can make one of the greatest impacts here in Bowling Green when it comes to sustaining ourselves,” she said. 

She thought the opening night went well.

“I thought it was so wonderful,” Loyd said. “The presentation was amazing, and Laura did an amazing job organizing the whole event, and I thought it went super well. It’s a very amazing source, incredible source to be able to go to a public library and take seeds to start your own garden for free.”

Reporter Olivia Mohr can be reached at 270-745-6288 and [email protected]