Living Sustainably: Herrick’s collection ‘grows’ with new seed library

By Andrea Goodell, Herrick District Library
Not all knowledge comes in books.  Herrick District Library has long advocated knowledge in all its forms, not the least of which is experience. Our new seed library aims to create a cycle of locally grown plants and saved seeds … and gardeners.

The Seed Library’s motto is “Select, Learn, Grown, Return.” Starting this month, patrons will be able to select from among 78 varieties of fruit, vegetable, herb and flower seeds (up to five packets per visit; no more than one of any variety). They will learn about gardening from seminars, seed swaps, books and videos. They can visit the HDL Seed Library website,, for tips, tricks and more resources.

Kicking off the new project will be Ben Cohen, sustainable homesteader and proprietor of Small House Farm. Cohen is an heirloom seed expert and will present “Community Knowledge: Planting and Saving Seeds” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 in the Herrick District Library auditorium, 300 S. River Ave. The presentation is the latest in the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series.

Master Gardener Shannon Campau will also conduct classes later this summer.  With all that help, no one needs to be intimidated by growing their own food or flowers from seed.
We hope a wide variety of people take and grow our organic, heirloom seeds. Some experts will grow gardens to save the seeds, carefully making sure they don’t cross-pollinate and noting when they planted and harvested the seeds, plus any helpful tips for the next gardener. Some people will seek to know more about growing food. Some people will want a cheap source of fresh fruit and veggies.
At the end of the season, we hope people will save some seeds for themselves and return some seeds to the library to keep the cycle going, but honestly, we know that many will simply enjoy the (literal) fruits of their labor. And that’s OK, too.
In a way, the seeds themselves will be gaining knowledge, as well. When seeds are saved and planted year over year in one area, it creates a more hardy plant adapted to that specific area.
In the coming years, the library hopes to expand the project to include native species as well.  Perhaps it is appropriate that the new seed library is housed in an upcycled card catalog. Yes, this is the library, but if all you’re expecting is rows of books and shushing librarians, you’re in the wrong place.

Herrick District Library is located at 300 S. River Ave. The Herrick North Branch is located at 155 Riley St. For details, visit or call 616-355- 3100.
Also, look for the Book Bike at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade at noon Saturday, March 17, giving away pea seeds!

 Andrea Goodell is community relations associate at Herrick District Library.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme:
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to for more information.