By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)
Southport, CT – You can be-leaf that the audience was green with excitement about the launch of the Fairfield Organic Teaching Farm’s new Seed-to-Seed Library.
On Wednesday evening, representatives from the Farm and Fairfield Public Library held an introduction to the initiative at Southport’s Pequot Library. About 50 gardening enthusiasts showed to get an overview of the program, meet a handful of eco-friendly and natural food vendors, buy seed packets and hear garden writer and lecturer Tovah Martin speak about garden stewardship. The launch preceded a program orientation that will take place from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 16 at the Fairfield Woods Library branch at 1147 Fairfield Woods Road.
“Our goal is to have every single household in Fairfield start a garden,” said Nancy Coriaty, Deputy Town Librarian. “If we can be our own sustainable garden center, that would be cool.”
Coriaty said that thousands of seeds will be available at the Woods Seed Library, made possible through a grant from the New England Grass Roots Environment Fund and seed donations from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. in Mansfield, MO, Comstock Ferre in Wethersfield, CT, and Renee’s Garden in Felton, CA. Funding also afforded seed cabinets and upcoming summer workshops.
Jennifer Cole, VP at Fairfield Organic Teaching Farm, said, “This is the first ever seed library in Fairfield. By taking the seeds out, planting and then bringing seeds back, all become part of the same community. You know exactly what your seeds are… that they’re organic. At the supermarket, you don’t know what you’re getting.”
To inspire both blossoming and veteran green thumbs, lecturer Martin showed slides of some of the most noted gardens around the U.S., which included Millstream (CT), Lynwood Gardens (NY) and Wing Haven (NC). She also made suggestions about how you should approach gardening and strategies for success. “You need to interact with your garden and exchange love,” she said. “It’s a relationship. And know who you are, do your own garden. I decided I was a colorful person. Not all the colors in my garden go together, but I don’t care what anyone thinks.”
Martin stressed good stewardship. “If you don’t love these things, they’ll be gone,” she said, noting that tubers like Dahlias, which need to be maintained annually, can be among the first to go if untended.
Martin added that you should aim to create gardens that someone may want to take under their wing in the future. “You have to get your seeds and keep them going,” she said. “We cannot depend on catalogs to preserve plants we think are important. We’ve got to do it ourselves.”
The advice resonated with event attendee Joe Puma, a member of the Greater Bridgeport Men’s Garden Club. “It’s fascinating to think of maintaining plants from one generation to the next,” he said. “My grandson comes over to my house and digs in the garden, and that’s exciting for me. One day, he may carry on the tradition.”
Another attendee, Peter Lamastro of Fairfield, is already putting Martin’s recommendations in practice as the new garden coordinator at Roger Sherman Elementary School. “We’re getting the garden started for the year,” he said. “All the classes are planting seeds and will contribute. We try to add an educational aspect to the process, tying it into the classroom. It would be nice for the kids to take what they learn and apply it at home.”