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Since its debut in May, the Pittsburgh Seed and Story Library at CLP - Lawrenceville has provided free vegetable, herb and edible flower seeds to amateur gardeners. Amid the books, CDs and DVDs are more than 150 varieties of seeds for gardeners to start their own backyard or patio garden.

Gardeners can "borrow" as many seeds from the Library as they need, with the hope that once the plants mature, their seeds will be harvested and returned to the Library. That way the local seed supply of fresh tomatoes, basil, pumpkins, carrots, beans, cilantro, cucumbers, corn, marjoram and soybeans can continue to grow.

The brainchild of Chatham Food Studies graduate student Amanda West, the Pittsburgh Seed and Story Library "aims to provide a public seed bank, gardening and seed saving classes and a place to hear and share some of Pittsburgh's vibrant gardening history."

Free classes, ranging from container gardening to how to choose appropriate plants for sun and climate conditions, were offered this summer to educate the public on basic gardening skills. As harvest time nears, the focus will shift to seed saving workshops and how to make the most use of the plants, such as making flavorful vinegars from the freshly picked herbs. In addition,West hopes to collect a story library of video interviews with community members on topics ranging from their childhood gardens to how gardening has made an impact on their lives.  

Photo of the garden outside CLP-Lawrenceville Photo of new seedling
Photo of Seed Catalog

How Does Our Garden Grow ...

Thanks to the Mary Jane Berger Memorial Foundation, community vegetable and herb gardens took root this summer at nine neighborhood libraries.

CLP - Carrick
CLP - Homewood
CLP - Knoxville
CLP - Lawrenceville
CLP - Mt. Washington
CLP - Sheraden
CLP - Squirrel Hill
CLP - West End
CLP - Woods Run

Using donated seeds and plants, volunteers created garden beds, prepped the soil, planted an assortment of herbs and vegetables and maintained the plots.

The grant also supported library materials that focus on the positive role of herbs and benefits of gardening.

Harvest time is just around the corner! Check out the gardening board at your neighborhood library or ask library staff for details about volunteer opportunities, weeding and harvesting schedules and current gardening programs.