Get your seeds here!
Patchogue-Medford Library development specialist Laura Accardi and library specialist assistant Karen McCahey display materials for the Seed Swap and Know Your Seed program on March 9

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Get your seeds here!

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
3/7/2019


 

The seedlings wiggle their way through the soil, then wave at viewers to come learn about them, a kind of “Yoo-hoo! We’re here!”

Well, maybe not wave. Or Yoo-hoo! But beckon for sure. 

The green things on the promotional video for the Patchogue-Medford Library’s site announces the March 9 Seed Swap and Know Your Seed programs. It’s a fun kickoff for gardeners and those leaning towards growing to come and learn. 

“We set that up in the office with a GoPro video camera,” said library development specialist Laura Accardi, of the beans, peas and basil movie stars. “We kept the camera on for 24 hours.” Beans, she said, grow the fastest.

“Beans will grow while you’re watching the dirt,” reported library development assistant Karen McCahey.

You could call Accardi and McCahey seed mamas. Accardi said the seed event started in 2014; about 14 library staffers pitch in to help run the event smoothly.

“It was a seed movement,” McCahey said of the initial event. “Neither of us are gardeners.”

“Well, maybe you,” she continued, looking at Accardi. “Me, zero.”

But the Farm to Table initiative was growing, pointed out McCahey, and it seemed like a good idea. The library was hoping for even two people the first year.

Patchogue-Medford Library’s Seed Swap takes place on Saturday, March 9 at 1 p.m. “Know Your Seed” begins at 3 p.m. “Grow Your Own Pizza” also starts at 1 p.m.; supplies are limited. To register, call 631-654-4700 ext. 225.  

 

Surprise! Fourteen showed up. Last year, 40 came.

“There were people who had no seeds, people who wanted to know about seeds and people who did know,” Accardi said. 

Accardi commented on a regular who has been following the correct protocol, Margaret Atkinson. She has been saving a certain variety of fennel seeds. A packet labeled “Margaret’s fennel grown 15 years,” lay on a library table. Another said, “Flat leaf arugula, 8 years.”

The overall event is simple. Borrow the seeds. Grow the seeds. Return the seeds. 

There’s an informational talk by Stephanie Gaylor from the Long Island Regional Seed Consortium. You need a pure seed, not a hybrid, and that’s where Gaylor comes in, explaining the difference. In September, there’s a follow-up Save Your Seed event.

But the March 9 event has an extra added attraction. At 1 p.m., another offering is taking place, a Grow Your Own Pizza for families, with seeds for basil, tomatoes and oregano, available in a cardboard pizza box. “We even give out the dough,” Accardi said. (Supplies are limited.)

Gaylor curated the first Seed Swap and every year since then and also donates seeds. Gaylor, who lives in Mattituck and owns Invincible Summer Farms in Southold, has been the Long Island seed saver expert. She travels to other areas to talk about seed saving and had just returned from Vermont.

“The trend has been around for a long time, but has only recently come to Long Island,” she said. “Pat-Med has a very good program because they follow protocols nationally. A lot of libraries are not teaching accepted methods, even giving out incorrect information on their website including genus and species. That’s the short end of it. Patchogue-Medford and Bayport-Blue Point libraries are really the gold standard.”

Gaylor started her farm full-time, which offers rare heirloom vegetables, in 2011 and had worked at a research library. “I know what I talk about and am well placed to discuss these things,” she said. “We have about 6,000 crop varieties and 25 different tomatoes,” she said of Invincible, which provides organically grown heirloom and open-pollinated produce, seeds and seedlings to the public. “We’re a nationally recognized farm and seed savers. The cool thing about this seed saving is that it’s really a lost art and it’s critical to save seeds and gardens. If it’s saved incorrectly we could lose a variety forever, so we have to do it ethically.”