What am I doing on these grey days and frigid nights? Dreaming of spring! After all, February 2 is Groundhog Day, the official start of the longing-for-spring season.
To celebrate I’m sorting through my saved-seed collection, lusting after seed-catalog photos and drawing maps of my garden-to-be. Whether you’re a garden virgin or experienced, Prescott has some great spring opportunities for you, and whether you plan to have one tomato plant in a single pot or a quarter-acre food forest, you can get the materials and support to grow your own.
The public libraries in both Prescott and Prescott Valley have seed libraries! Yes, you can “check out” seeds! They are free, available now, and are selected to grow successfully in this area. All you need is a library card, and you don’t have to return them! You can donate to help support this service, or you can save seeds and then make a return. You can learn how to save seeds on the Prescott Public Library YouTube channel, which features videos on seeds, gardens, composting, and seed-saving, all recorded by local experts.
Prescott’s seed library is supported by Friends of the Library and the Prescott Farmer’s Market. For more information contact the Adult Services librarian at 928-759-6196.
Prescott Valley’s seed library is funded by a grant from the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. For information contact Michelle at email@example.com.
If you don’t know what to do with those seeds, the libraries are hosting the Plant-to-Plate lecture series. It’s an in-person gardening class taught by University of Arizona-trained master gardeners. In six sessions Plant-to-Plate covers the basics, including soil, planning, planting, care, weeds, insects and harvest. The course includes a text (in pdf format) that covers each subject in more detail. Like all other library services, these classes are free.
Plant-to-Plate Schedule: Prescott Public Library Founder’s Suite, starting Thursday, February 23 (4:30-6pm) and continuing every other Thursday till May 4.
Prescott Valley Public Library, starting Monday, February 6 (5:30-6:45) and continuing on the second Thursday of each month through June.
For more information on Plant-to-Plate contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seed Mania! 2023 is a free community seed festival that features food, fun, seeds, networking, speakers, demonstrations, and kids’ activities for everyone. This year it will be held on Sunday March 5, 1-6pm at the Prescott College Crossroads Center. Come to meet and play with local school-garden champions — there’s a dedicated kids’ area. Team up to network and learn from soil, seed, garden, mushroom, corn and compost experts. Join in to trade, donate or purchase seeds at bulk prices. Catch the heritage seed-based meal, prepared by me. Don’t miss this one!
Seed Mania! is co-sponsored by Prescott College, Slow Food Prescott, the Prescott Farmers Market and the Museum of Indigenous Peoples. For more information contact PrescottAZ@slowfoodusa.org.
So you want to grow food in your garden, but you don’t know where to start or you keep running into failures. The Grow Food in Your Backyard Project is designed for you. Slow Food Prescott matches experienced and master gardeners one-on-one with beginners. You’ll get your very own garden mentor! Support extends beyond advice, including free distribution of seeds, soil, plants, irrigation equipment, liquid fertilizer and, when needed, raised beds, row covers and fencing. GFIYB builds community with social gatherings and information-sharing. If you want to grow your own and need help, please apply. If you’re an experienced gardener, GFIYB needs your help as a mentor. Join the community of gardens!
2023 is the third year of this successful program, which includes school, church, government and tribal gardens. Applications will be available February 1. To apply please contact PrescottAZ@slowfoodusa.org.
Twice a year the Prescott Farmers Market hosts a massive seed giveaway and exchange, with knowledgeable and friendly staff on hand to help with questions. As of this writing the spring seed event has not yet been scheduled. Check the PrescottFarmersMarket.org for dates, or contact email@example.com.
Those wonderful Yavapai County master gardeners run a help desk with science-based garden information. Contact them with questions at 928-445-6590 Extension 222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s true I’m not dreaming of spring: I’m preparing. As soon as this chill grip breaks I’ll be out there digging and planting seeds and growing a gardening community. Join us!
Chef Molly Beverly is Prescott's leading creative food activist and teacher. Photos by Gary Beverly.