The pandemic has thrown us many challenges, but Judith and Abigail Manalil learnt a valuable life lesson: that plants can give you food and flowers, but they need constant care in order to survive.
When studying from home during lockdown, Judith, 9, and Abigail, 7, planted two tomato plants in pots. They forgot to water them, and the plants didn't make it.
Abigail (left) and Judith Manalil at Sam Merrifield Library in Moonee Ponds, which runs a seed library.Credit:Jason South
Which sparked another lesson: "If at first you don’t succeed, try again." And so the Ascot Vale sisters again made use of the Moonee Valley Libraries’ Seed Library.
Under the scheme, the area's five libraries offer the public free seeds, and people can donate seeds they’ve harvested at home, for others to take.
It's a simple idea that's growing. Similar programs run at Eastern Regional Libraries, at Castlemaine and Woodend libraries and at sites across the City of Darebin including Jika Jika and Alphington community centres.
Justine Hanna, a team leader at Sam Merrifield Library in Moonee Ponds, said the Moonee Valley Libraries program started in September 2019 after a Canadian visitor said seed libraries were popular in his country and asked if there were any in Melbourne.
Seeds from the library.Credit:Jason South
Ms Hanna loved the idea, and it aligns with the mission of today’s libraries to cater for patrons’ health and wellbeing, not just reading needs.
Moonee Valley Libraries members can take up to three seed packets per visit, each with 10 to 15 seeds. Written on the packets are the plant’s name, a description and care instructions.
During Melbourne's second COVID-19 lockdown, library staff mailed over 140 envelopes, each containing at least five packets of seeds, to members.
Popular food seeds include tomatoes, pumpkins, carrots, chillis, and parsley. Popular flowers include marigolds and Russian sunflowers.
Seed Library box from Moonee Valley Libraries
Donations have included an Italian heirloom lettuce variety called the Drunken Woman, and a ground cover herb with a pretty purple flower called Glycine clandestina.
Ms Hanna said the community had embraced the program, "donating seeds, talking to us about it and sending us photos, thank you notes and unboxing videos".
Judith and Abigail's mother, Betty Nellanikat, said the program was a great way to teach the girls where food comes from and that some plants don't survive or bear fruit. "I think it’s a beautiful scheme," she said.
They have "borrowed" and planted seeds for dill, tomato, coriander, lettuce and radish from the Seed Library, and have deposited blackberry seeds, which they had washed and dried from fruit they bought at a market and didn’t eat.
Ms Nellanikat said gardening was "good during the COVID-19 lockdowns for the girls to have something purposeful to do".
"Everything was closed down, even the park — we could only go there for an hour.
"But when they came home there was still something, off technology, that they could go back to, which was their own. They love gardening now."
Start your day informed
Our Morning Edition newsletter is a curated guide to the most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.
Most Viewed in National
Source: Read Full Article