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SCPL Seed Library
Community Seed Event
We’re excited to announce our first-ever Community Seed event coming this spring and summer. Together, we will learn to grow and preserve the Inciardi paste tomato. This spring, we will have workshops, free seeds, and the Master Gardner’s will host an Inciardi seedling sale. More events will follow in the summer.
The Inciardi tomato has a story worthy of a book. This paste tomato was first brought to America from Sicily by Henry Inciardi and family. The seeds were sewn into their clothes to prevent them from being confiscated at Ellis Island. Henry Inciardi ended up in Chicago working for General Electric, and the family continued growing the seeds for decades. After it nearly went extinct, it was brought back by a handful of local gardeners, notably Vicki Nowicki, founder of the Downers Grove Seed Library who continued to grow and save the seeds. Today it is grown almost exclusively in the Chicagoland area and is said to make one of the best tomato sauces.
For a complete list of all the Community Seed Gardening Programs click here.
The place you go for gardening books is now the same place you go for seeds to plant. The St. Charles Public Library offers heirloom and open-pollinated seeds free to the community. While a green thumb might help, a library card is not required. Seeds can be checked out, planted and returned after the growing season for other gardeners to enjoy every year.
Our heirloom seeds are truly treasures passed down from generation to generation – the varieties your grandparents and great-grandparents might have grown. Our open-pollinated seeds are newer varieties, but can also be saved and reused. The seed lending program perfectly reflects the ideals held by the St. Charles Public Library: it’s all about sharing, reuse and sustainability. Stop by to see what is growing in our raised bed gardens.
The seed library is located on the main level near the snack stop and is accessible anytime the Library is open.
Why a Seed Library?
Our seed collection increases local biodiversity, and offers resilience to insects and other issues which often affect common, store-bought seeds/plants. The program encourages community engagement and provides an opportunity to grow a widened variety of fresh vegetables. Best of all, the seeds are available at no cost.
The Library considers it important to pair education with the seed library. A bounty of gardening programs allows master gardeners and expert presenters to share knowledge and experience with the community.
Four Benefits of a Seed Library
- A risk-free opportunity for first-time gardeners
- Increased availability of fresh, local produce
- Experienced gardeners can experiment and grow new varieties of plants
- More plant biodiversity benefits environmental sustainability
How it Works
There are no requirements to take seeds. You do not need a library card and you do not have to save/return seeds at the end of the growing season.
Most of the seeds are easy to grow, but some are more difficult to save (to ensure the seeds grow true to the characteristics of their parents). Seeds are sorted alphabetically by the type e.g. Lettuce, Tomato, and labeled by how hard they are to save. There are easy, moderate and challenging seeds, feel free to take seeds of any difficulty level.
Please take only what you intend to grow. There is no limit, but 5-10 packets is a good number. You can always come back for more!
Helpful Seed Library and Gardening Links: