Queen City Seed Library starts new project

Marquette’s Mike Riesterer looks over the Queen City Seed Library, located at the Peter White Public Library. The seed library is part of a new project called Germ Fest that involves seed germination. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

MARQUETTE — Most people probably don’t want any more germs lurking about, but the first annual Germ Fest shouldn’t instill fear in anyone, unless they’re terrified of seedlings.

The name, after all, is short for Germination Fest, a new ongoing project with a goal of providing quality seeds for the community.

The Queen City Seed Library, located in Marquette’s Peter White Public Library in a wooden card catalog, is part of the new project.

Keeping the seed library inventory up is a matter of getting to “know before you sow,” organizers say.

Mike Riesterer of Marquette, who has been involved in the seed library, said, “This is something brand new that we came up with. It’s a way to get people to participate in ensuring that the inventory of the seed library is going to be viable.”

Germ Fest volunteers will pick up their kits at the seed library and perform germination tests at home, he said. They will use a QR, or Quick Response, code to go to a form where they will record the results. Volunteers also can be emailed a link if they cannot use a QR code.

“Then we’ll be able to verify that the seeds that will be in the seed library for this upcoming season will be viable for people to use,” Riesterer said.

The Queen City Seed Library, which was started in April 2016, is run by individuals from Transition Marquette County, the North Farm, MQT Growth and Partridge Creek Farm, he said.

“You want people to check out seeds, use them, harvest some of the plants to save the seeds and then bring those seeds back to replenish what’s in the inventory,” Riesterer said.

He acknowledged that’s not always easy.

“People are not familiar with how to save seeds, and it seems probably complicated or difficult, which it isn’t,” he said. “The challenge is getting people to bring seeds back.”

He said seeds can be returned to a basket under the seed library, or brought to the annual Seed Swap. This year’s event is set for March 26.

For details, email queencityseedlibrary@gmail.com.

Riesterer said the effort needs younger people to get involved. Fortunately, Northern Michigan University has reached out to get sustainability students involved in the seed library.

Other individuals are needed as well.

“People are here,” Riesterer said. “They’re invested, but then they grow up and they go away. So we kind of need that ‘middle-ground people,’ the people that are kind of settled and want to support a certain thing in the community, like a seed library. That’s harder to get.”

There is some good news: The Forsyth Township Public Library is going to start a seed library, he said.

Other seed libraries in the state can be located by visiting the seed library map at miseedlibrary.org, maintained by the MI Seed Library Network. The network’s mission, according to its website, is to connect seed libraries, their stakeholders and partners, and to promote and support the development of new seed libraries in Michigan.

Getting people to grow their own food and creating a stock of seeds that can be reused over and over are part of the mission of seed libraries, Riesterer said.

“Those seeds are going to be more adapted, better adapted, to our climate than seeds you buy from far away,” he said. “So the idea is to get people to keep that going.”

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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