The Fishers Island Library and the Conservancy are teaming up to help the island “go native” by offering free seeds to patrons for use in their own island gardens.
Seed libraries have been popular on the mainland as a way to get seeds into the hands of interested gardeners at no cost. “We wanted to launch a pilot program to see if we could encourage folks to plant island friendly flowers,” says FI Library board President, Jon Britt, “to begin, we are offering two varieties but if there is some enthusiasm for the idea, we may expand it to more choices next year.”
Patrons can help themselves to two types of seeds: milkweed to help encourage the struggling monarch butterfly population and Black-Eyed Susans, a hardy island native that attracts pollinators and is happy in a variety of soils.
The Fishers Island Conservancy is an enthusiastic collaborator on this project, providing seeds and planting instructions with each packet. “Our ongoing mantra at the Conservancy is ‘plant native’ because science supports the idea that the food web depends on species that have co-evolved,” says Tom Sargent, FI Conservancy president, “if a species is a late arrival like Oriental Bittersweet, there are very few insects that recognize it as food.”
Planting appropriate New England based plants will encourage a healthy ecosystem that attracts the insects that, in turn, attract native birds and bees.
If you are interested in obtaining seeds, patrons are asked to “sign out” the packets with some basic contact information so the program can follow up on progress (no judgment on outcomes or completion!) One packet of each variety allowed per person or family. Be on the lookout for other resources at the library and on this program as it “grows”. For more information, contact Jennifer Mancusi-Ungaro at email@example.com.