Santa Fe Mini Seed Libraries Helping Residents’ Gardens

By Danielle Prokop, Santa Fe New Mexican

Danielle Prokop | The New Mexican

April 27, 2020 – Spring is in full swing. And while it’s usually time to putter around the garden, in the new normal, prepping for the planting season also has changed.

About a dozen people took advantage Saturday of the city’s mini seed libraries, which offer up some of the botanical bounty held by Santa Fe’s libraries that is no longer accessible because of COVID-19 closures.

Susie Sonflieth, who helps head the Santa Fe Extension Master Gardeners Seed Stewards Project, said online and local retailers were sold out of seeds because of demand.

“We hope this supports the current high demand for seeds, helps address urgent food scarcity issues and encourages people to start saving seeds,” Sonflieth said in a news release.

In addition to distributing seeds in the mini libraries, seeds will be donated to The Food Depot, Tewa Women United and New Mexico Acequia Association for their programs.

The bins, filled with seed packets for beans, root vegetables, fruits and flowers, are available, usually on weekends, in five spots around Santa Fe County.

Alma Iglesias, a medical assistant, stopped by the Southside Branch Library, looking for tomato and vegetable seeds.

“We just purchased our house in the fall, and now we finally have the space to start a garden,” she said, adding the experience would be good for her 2-year-old daughter.

Alysha Shaw, who works for the state, said she started collecting her own seeds to give back to the community and is looking to expand the garden.

“I started squash and tomatoes, but this is the first year I’m making a significant edible garden,” she said.

Otis Chappell, rector of Saint Thomas Anglican Church, said he heard about the seed libraries from his daughter and was excited to pick seeds for beans, watermelons and tomatoes from the bin.

People visiting the seed bins took extra care to stay 6 feet apart and put on masks and gloves, but it’s not just the seed libraries affected by rules of social distancing.

Last week, the Governor’s Office put in place new guidelines so nurseries and garden supply shops selling “live product” can do so via delivery and curbside service.

For Payne’s Nursery, the pace has been nonstop.

Caitlin Spencer, an employee, said they were inundated with orders Saturday.

“We’re receiving hundreds of phone and email orders a day,” she said. “It’s been crazy. There’s only the five of us doing the shopping for hundreds of people.”



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