Planting the seed

EBCL hires seed library and garden coordinator in effort to encourage more education, community involvement

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

There’s a green thumb hard at work in the Sandpoint library’s garden. 

Hired this spring to take the community space to the next level and help improve education surrounding the seed library, Anna Hebard attended organic farm school in Whidbey Island, Wash., where she learned all the ins and outs of being a seed grower and saver. 

Anna Hebard tends the garden at the East Bonner County Library District’s Sandpoint branch.

Beyond her gardening chops, she said her knowledge will serve her well as she takes over management of the East Bonner County Library District’s seed library: a catalog of actual seeds that patrons are welcome to check out and plant in their own gardens.

“[I have] the passion for what it takes to be a seed saver,” she told the Reader. “It’s a lot of dedication, wanting things to thrive.”

Hebard said that the seed library is seeing a lot of use, but not a lot of replenishment. In order for it to operate as a real library, patrons need to save seeds at the end of the growing season and return them to the stacks. 

In the interest of correcting this incomplete cycle, Hebard will host an introductory seed-saving class on Friday, June 2 at the East Bonner County Library’s Sandpoint branch (1407 Cedar St.) from noon-1 p.m.

“It can be [intimidating] for folks who might not understand open pollination, or what would happen if plants cross-pollinated,” she said. “I really just want to open the discussion around [seed saving], and in the fall I want to do more of a hands-on demonstration.”

Getting more people involved in the seed library will also lead to more resilient seeds, Hebard said, which is vital in an area with such a short growing season.

“Once you grow one seed out to be a whole bunch more seeds, you’ve adapted that seed to our area, with its weather conditions and soil type,” she said.

As for the Sandpoint library’s community garden — which has been entirely volunteer-run in recent years — Hebard has been busy propagating plants in the library’s greenhouse. She said she hopes to focus on food growing in the garden this year, since the library is part of a nationwide initiative to provide public access to healthy foods.

A plaque mounted to the garden’s greenhouse. Photos by Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey.

“There will be signage saying, basically, this is a public space and you are free to harvest whenever you’d like,” she said.

Hebard said she is interested in partnerships with other groups or individuals in the community who might want to get involved by managing their own garden bed within the space. She also hopes to host more demonstrations, such as one about container gardening for those who live in town and may not have room for a traditional, sprawling garden.

As the fruits, veggies and flowers of the library garden grow this spring and summer, so will Hebard’s ideas. She said that she aims to help locals remember that the garden and seed library are meant to be utilized.

“We all live in this beautiful place to be closer to nature,” she said.

To contact Anna Hebard about garden collaborations or to ask questions about the seed library, email her at [email protected]. Those interested in volunteering their time to either the seed library or garden should visit to sign up. Also reach the Sandpoint library with general questions by calling 208-263-6930.

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