BY COLIN MACDOUGALL
“Our food choices are important not only for your own health, but for the people in the environment around you,” says Sandy McCarthy, of the Sustainability Council of Washtenaw Community College Food and Agriculture division. The SCWCC have announced that on March 15 students, faculty, staff and the community will be able to borrow not only books from the Richard Bailey Library, but also seeds.
Sandy McCarthy and Maureen Perault are two librarians who are in charge of the Food and Agriculture division of the Sustainability Council.
“Our goals include the seed library and to promote healthy eating on campus,” Perault said. “We are trying to teach people to go back to growing their own foods and teach them how to be a little more sustainable themselves,” McCarthy said.
The SCWCC looks to use open-pollinated, open-sourced heirloom seeds.
“Which are because of the whole genetically modified organism movement like Monsanto, and producers like that are wiping out the biodiversity, they are developing these seeds to be more disease resistant and it’s affecting them,” McCarthy said. “When you really look into those GMO seeds, they are pumping into them Round-up and stuff like that – that’s what’s in the seed,” Perault said. “Then you’re eating the pesticide and herbicides,” McCarthy added.
The SCWCC ended up buying from two local seed providers, Ann Arbor Seed Company and Nature and Nurture Seed Company. McCarthy notes that “the seeds are proven to be very successful in this area in their heirloom varieties.”
“The seed library will be self-sustaining and self help. Take what you need as needed,” Perault said. The seeds will be packaged with what the SCWCC feels is a good amount of seeds in a little envelope. It will have enough to get any small backyard garden started this spring. Instructions are included on how to start growing the seed.
The seeds in the library will be classed from “easy to grow,” like spinach and lettuce, to more intermediate, with the most difficult to grow being tomatoes. They aren’t directly sown, but actually have to start being grown indoors and then transplanted outdoors. The seed library will not only have vegetables in it, but herbs and a few flowers like sunflowers, nustians, and marigolds that are edible, and also keep insects away.
Bella Pense, a 17-year-old liberal arts major from Ann Arbor and an avid gardener says, “I’m going to take advantage of (the seed library).” Last year, Pense grew tomatoes, cilantro, basil, thyme and lavender in her garden.
“I think that the seed library brings an awesome opportunity for students to learn about growing their own food,” said Emily Freeland, a 22-year-old nutrition major from Blissfield. “With resources like the seed library, and they (SCWCC) are also going to have workshops to teach those students how to use those resources.”
“We are hoping at the end of the season to teach people to save their seeds (from their garden) and return them (to the seed library),” Perault said. “The whole idea is, you borrow the seeds, return them and there are no late fees.” McCarthy added that are no due dates and students can borrow any seeds they want.
“We are starting here small, but we are looking to outreach this program into the community and make it a bigger way of talking to people about food and healthy eating,” Perault said.