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Grow your own seder garden with seeds from Pima County libraries

Never again have wilted parsley for karpas (greens) on your seder plate. Instead, grow your own with free seeds, “borrowed” from one of several Pima County Library branches. This Seed Library was among the nation’s first circulating seed concepts, opened in 2012. Now, libraries across the country have adopted the model, many with advice from Tucson’s library system.

The seed library features open-pollinated and heirloom seeds, donated by local and national seed companies, seed banks and local growers and harvesters, housed in repurposed card catalogue boxes. Library members can borrow up to six packets of seeds monthly. Each packet contains enough seeds to grow five to 10 plants. They are checked out with a library card like other materials, but there are no due dates or late fees. Gardeners are encouraged to save seeds from local, healthy, pollinated plants, and donate them back to the library.

The Seed Library’s mission is to help nurture a thriving community of seed savers and to be part of a community-wide effort to create genetically diverse, desert-adaptive plant varieties. By properly growing, selecting and harvesting seeds, borrowers ensure a collection of seeds that have become acclimated to the desert environment. So, your parsley will be hearty and more heat resistant when grown from local library seeds. (Note that with only three weeks until the first seder on March 30, you may have to plan ahead for next year to grow and harvest parsley for your Passover table — but you can certainly get a start now on vegetables for Sukkot, the harvest festival, which starts this year on Sept. 23.)

Seeds may be checked out from these branches: Dusenberry-River, Flowing Wells, Himmel Park, Joel Valdez, Martha Cooper, Oro Valley, Quincie Douglas and Salazar-Ajo. Gardeners who are unable to visit any of those branches can search the online catalogue, place seeds on reserve, and pick them up at any library branch. Different seeds are available seasonally, along with planting calendars, instructions and live support for gardening success. Available varieties include fruits, grains, flowers, and of course, parsley and other herbs and vegetables for chazeret and maror (the two types of bitter herbs). For details, go to library.pima.gov/seed-library.