Wild Ones Southern Kentucky Provides Native Seeds to Patrons

by | Mar 2024

ALL FIVE Warren County Public Library locations offer more than endless rows of books. The libraries give patrons access to computers and the internet, printers, copiers, notaries, book clubs, free and low-cost events, engaging activities for all ages, as well as access to genealogy records, music CDs, audiobooks, streaming movies through Hoopla and Kanopy, and magazines — without ever paying for a subscription. Patrons can also borrow telescopes, STEM kits, jewelry-making equipment, sewing machines, cake pans, beach toys, and even ukeleles, all recently added by the Warren County Public Library. 

The Bob Kirby branch offers an “idea lab” for crafts and various hobbies. Unbelievably, this location provides a pottery wheel and a kiln, a 3D carving machine called a Carvey CNC router, a printer for posters, an embroidery machine, a 3D printer, button makers, a vinyl cutter, a heat press, and more! The Smiths Grove branch has a heat press and a Cricut. The virtual libraries offer access to various programs to learn foreign languages, receive help with your homework, access encyclopedias and links to research medical and legal help, along with business, finance, and career opportunities. 

Benjamin Franklin opened the first public library in 1731, and ever since, librarians have been planting seeds in the minds of their patrons and vastly expanding the knowledge and imaginations of everyone who holds a library card. These seeds are no longer just theoretical, as the Warren County Public Library has partnered with several seed companies to offer everything from arugula to zucchini. Now, patrons will find seeds for native perennials thanks to a new partnership with the Wild Ones Southern Kentucky Chapter (Wild Ones SOKY). This organization donated over 600 seed packets to help residents regain access to native plants, benefitting local habitats. 

Seeds such as the purple coneflower, Eastern red columbine, and several milkweed species are available with limits of five packs per day. Native seeds adapt to our local climate and unique soil conditions, and the plants provide nectar, pollen, and an abundance of seeds that feed local wildlife. Because they are native to our area, they require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides and help prevent erosion and flooding. Saving seeds after planting is also essential, as patrons can donate seeds back to the Seed Library, ensuring a never-ending supply. 

The Wild Ones SOKY Chapter began in March 2020 and serves Southern Kentucky and Northern Tennessee. According to Katie Marquardt, the chapter’s president, Bowling Green is at the heart of her service area. Its goal is to “connect people and native plants for a healthy planet,” and they work to accomplish this through education, advocacy, and collaborative action, such as their connection with the Warren County Public Library. 

“Our chapter is a community of knowledgeable and passionate people with a shared vision — native plants and natural landscapes thriving in our yards, gardens, community spaces, and wild areas,” said Marquardt. “We learn and grow together, sharing experiences and resources to create a movement of local gardeners growing healthier landscapes. We are dedicated to making an impact in our region with community gardens, habitat restoration projects, engaging the community with meetings and events, and hosting educational opportunities for youth.” 

Members of the chapter frequently host events at the River Birch Room at Lost River Cave, which include exciting lectures on biodiversity and updates on the meadow restoration at the Lost River Cave. The chapter also co-organized the annual four-day global bioblitz in April in their City Nature Challenge for Bowling Green and South Central Kentucky. 

Saturday, May 11, Wild Ones SOKY will host its annual Spring Native Plant Sale at the community farmers market. Locals will have the chance to purchase affordable native plants provided by members. All proceeds benefit the chapter and fund its ongoing efforts within the community. 

“Many locals have already realized we’ve lost too many acres of diverse habitats in South Central Kentucky. It’s negatively impacting our insects, birds, and other wildlife. The good news is, everyone has the opportunity to embrace native planting practices, create spaces that welcome and sustain wildlife, and contribute to a healthy ecosystem,” said Marquardt. “Personally, I love working outdoors as a way of staying active. It’s beneficial for my physical and mental well-being. It helps me feel connected to my land and the wildlife it supports. Simply seeing and spending time around trees and plants makes me feel happy, but making an effort to help them grow makes it even better!” GN 

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