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Cultivating community: Bucks County Seed Share


Signs of spring are popping up all over the Bucks County region.

The time to get this season’s flowers, herbs, and veggies in the ground has come and fortunately, there is an abundance of seeds at the Morrisville Public Library waiting to be sown.

The Bucks County Seed Share debuted to the public with an open house on Feb. 22.

Run by Lower Makefield Township residents Heather Guidice and Jean Kuhn, the community project aims to create a deeply rooted community among gardeners in the area by sharing complimentary seeds and hosting occasional workshops.

Guidice and Kuhn connected over their shared passion for gardening.

“Absolutely gardening, compost, sustainability,” Guidice said. “So, a lot of common threads there.”

The duo laugh back and forth, an appreciative banter that is the backbone of their seed initiative partnership.

“Heather has a vermicompost business, and at the time I thought I wanted to get into that and here was Heather already established with it,” Kuhn said. “And, I thought, ‘She’s the early bird that got the worm.’ So, we went out to Pretty Bird Coffee and chatted and realized we had a lot of interests in common.”

That meeting about three years ago in the Yardley coffee shop has blossomed into not only friendship, but what is now a beneficial resource for the community.

“We were chatting in a garden group online and someone thought it would be a good idea to have a seed library like those Little Free Libraries you see pop up on someone’s lawn,” Kuhn said.

Both Guidice and Kuhn decided to explore what it would take to bring the idea to fruition.

“Both Heather and I were concerned that the temperature and humidity wouldn’t work well for the seeds and then Heather came up with the idea of asking the library to host it because they have to have the humidity and temperature control technology for their books,” Kuhn said. “And that’s how it all got started.”

Collecting seeds for the initiative was a combination of identifying seed stewards within the local gardening group and community and reaching out to seed companies that had previously provided the garden group with seeds at low to no cost, according to Kuhn.

Seeds are labeled and stored in alphabetical order in former card catalogs, with open-pollinated vegetable, herb, and flower categories available.

The seed share currently houses more than three dozen varieties of tomatoes.

The share also features an extensive native plant seed collection, with more than 40 on site.

“This was really important to include when you think about growing and bringing pollinators and contributing to ecological diversity and sustaining that,” Guidice said. “Native plants play a huge role in our daily lives whether we realize it or not.”

Thus far, the seed share has offered complimentary seed starting kits, native plant insect interactions guides, and a seed starting workshop.

While there are a handful of volunteers, Guidice and Kuhn are at the helm of the initiative, with the hopes it will become self-sustainable in time.

“We’ve been at it since last June and there’s so much that has to go into really getting it going,” Guidice said. “We’ve spent countless hours up until our launch to get things ready for the public and ongoing afterwards.”

Although it has certainly required a lot of work to get to this point, serendipity led the way.

“We needed a system housing it and we found a very warm welcome with Diane Hughes at the Morrisville Library. And, how we were going to house it. We started to locate those old course catalogs,” Kuhn said. “We talked to another seed library in Wisconsin, and they’ve been giving us tips. There’ve been so many green lights.”

The duo have also spoken to Jeannie Kim, head of reference and adult services at Southampton Free Library, which also runs a seed exchange program.

Morrisville Library panned out to be the perfect spot not only for environmental conditions, but also location.

“We wanted it to be local enough to not have too far of a commute and we wanted it to be in our community,” Kuhn said. And, the library staff were enthusiastic about it.

The Bucks County Seed Share is operated on an honor system, with visitors asked to take up to four seed packets per visit.

“I think it adds to the heartwarming, community aspect of it,” Kuhn said. “One of the reasons this idea works is, when you grow anything, in itself, it contains multiples of hundreds or even thousands of seeds for that next generation. It’s generative. Fruits, vegetables, and flowers lend themselves to be generous.”

The hope is that in addition to providing the seeds to start gardens, gardeners will donate seeds back to the seed share upon harvest.

And, share their experiences with gardening.

“We can just be a venue for people to share knowledge,” Kuhn said. “We hope as these things start going in the ground, people will start posting images and their experiences. And, if there’s troubleshooting, maybe someone else will step in and let the community talk amongst themselves and share their knowledge.”

For details about the Bucks County Seed Share, follow @buckscounty_seedshare on Instagram and Bucks County Seed Share on Facebook.