Miller Library Offers Patrons Access to Growing Heirloom Seed Library


by Kristina Garvelink (M.S. ’15)

For the second year, patrons of Cornerstone University's Miller Library can locate books on gardening near a wide-ranging selection of complimentary seeds. The library's heirloom seed collection currently stocks seed packets representative of more than 200 plant varieties.

Elizabeth Thornburg (B.A. ’18), assistant circulation supervisor, oversees the initiative. Advisers include Dr. Matt Bonzo, professor of philosophy, and Laura Walton, interim library director.

"In the last century, we've lost about 94% of food seed varieties because of convenience and monoculture," Thornburg said. "Seed libraries help counteract this."

To start Cornerstone's inventory of seeds, library staff members submitted applications to two heirloom seed companies—including Seed Savers Exchange—and accepted donations of heirloom organic seeds.

"Heirloom seeds are grown by one unique family or people group," Thornburg noted. "Through preserving, growing and restocking these seeds, we can interact with people from different cultures, getting to know someone by what food they eat or partaking in a meal together."

The seed library supplies seeds for the on-campus Virtue Garden, a hands-on opportunity for students, staff, faculty and volunteers to participate in seasonal gardening and grow produce.

Thornburg expressed hope for the university's heirloom seed library to eventually become one means to help ensure that nearby urban areas have consistent access to fresh produce.

"I've always had a personal interest in food theory—from food acquisition to eating it," Thornburg said. "I'm grateful for this opportunity and that the seed library has gotten the reception that it has."

Read More

To learn more and begin the process of growing your own produce, Thornburg recommends adding these titles to your reading list: