NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)–There are certain universal truths. An effective book can plant an idea like a seed. A mild weather spring day, can be an inspiring setting to curl up with a good book outside.

In New Orleans, books as well as plant seeds can be checked out of the library with a public library card.

Shelby Goddard is the Adult Programming Librarian for the New Orleans Public Library and explains the concept of a seed library saying, “A seed library is a selection of seeds for vegetables, fruits and herbs that grow well in this climate.”

Seed libraries around the country grew in popularity, largely after the pandemic, by offering people a free way to start community gardens, combat hunger and secure biodiversity.

The NOLA Public Seed Library began in 2016 at the Cita Dennis Hubbel Library on 725 Pelican Ave in the Algiers neighborhood; by the Parkway Partners community organization. Over the years, the popularity of the seeds grew and recently, the New Orleans Public Library announced the opening of five new seed libraries across the city.

The seed libraries are located at Alvar Library at 913 Alvar St., Cita Dennis Hubbell Library at 725 Pelican Ave, Mid-City Library at 4140 Canal St., & the Milton H. Latter Memorial Library at 5120 St. Charles Ave.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for people to come try new things, as they learn more about growing food. We have a binder full of information about what types of seeds to plant where, the depth, the spacing and all you need to know to have a successful garden,” explains Goddard.

The way the seed library resource works is simple. Patrons with a New Orleans Public Library card can take three free seed packets a day. Free seeds can be a good thing. The National Garden Association recently conducted a study that found the average American household garden produces about $600 dollars of produce a year.

The seed library can be a useful entry level resource to help feed communities, regardless of the green thumb experience.

“I’m a casual gardener, I’ll say. I’m learning more and more! I have a small vegetable garden. I have some herbs and tomatoes,” says Shelby Goddard.

The New Orleans Public Library is currently adding gardening and seed starter workshop classes for the summer, at four of the NOLA Public Seed Library locations. Check out their website for more information.

In the spirit of literature and greenery, one of the best poems is by Emily Dickenson.

This summer I tried my hand at planting vegetables. I’ve wanted a garden for a long time, but living in an apartment put that wish on hold. Instead, I started a garden on my back porch, planting tomatoes, zucchini, cilantro, and basil in pots. The pride and excitement I felt when my little seedlings began to sprout had me thinking about what it must have been like long ago to live off the land entirely, and how precious mother nature is to us as human beings.  In our modern, technological society we often forget this. But nature can do things to our souls that nothing else can. It can revive us, remind us that we are grounded to it, that we are one with the earth. 

Nature and gardening have been muses for poets for centuries and still are today. Here are eight poems inspired by gardening to remind you of the importance and wonder of nature. 

“I trust your Garden was willing to die . . . I do not think that mine was—it perished with beautiful reluctance, like an evening star”

—Emily Dickinson