Time bank coordinator Tara Paon (standing) helps people sign up for the Community Skill Exchange – Richmond County Time Bank’s new seed bank at the St. Peter’s library on April 13.

ST. PETER’S: Experienced gardeners mingled with novices in St. Peter’s on April 13 as the newest initiative of the Community Skill Exchange – Richmond County Time Bank was launched.

The idea began with a well-attended seed swap event last May at the St. Peter’s library branch of the Eastern counties regional library (ECRL), which was hosted by library assistant Ashley Dempsey. Some time later, Dempsey proposed the seed bank idea at a meeting with fellow time bank members and the response was positive.

Photos by Dana MacPhail Touesnard — Ashley Dempsey (left), library assistant in charge at the St. Peter’s Library, and Tara Paon of the Community Skill Exchange – Richmond County Time Bank display some of the seed packages available at the newly-launched seed bank at the St. Peter’s library.

The seed bank, located at the St. Peter’s library, allows members of the Time Bank to sign out packages of seeds for use in their gardens. Each package counts as a time credit the person will return in kind after the growing season by bringing in some of their own saved seeds.

“There’s a lot of people who want to garden and don’t have a clue how to start or don’t know where to buy seeds or whatever so they can come get them here for free,” said Dempsey.

Members who don’t want to wait until the end of the growing season to balance their credits might simply choose to lead a workshop, assist in yard work, provide transportation to another member, or choose from the Time Bank list of requests.

“If they’re not a Time Bank member I’ve got all the computers set up so they can sign up right away and get their seeds,” Dempsey noted.

The seeds are stored in an old library card catalogue that was donated by a former librarian, after Dempsey launched a search for the cabinet.

The launch of the seed bank, held a week later than planned after a 12-hour power outage scuttled plans for the original date, was well attended and brought new members to the time bank.

Tara Paon, coordinator of the Community Skill Exchange – Richmond Time Bank, says the seed bank is just another of the exciting community-enhancing partnerships being nurtured by the not-for-profit.

“The thing with the Time Bank is it’s a connector. I’ve had people provide a service for another member and actually say, ‘I don’t want a time credit for giving them a drive or helping them take their dog for a walk. It was just nice that now I have a way to help them.’

At the launch, Paon and Dempsey assisted Time Bank members, new and old, in the process of selecting their seeds, signing them out and filling out a survey to express their hopes for the future of the seed bank.

Paon stressed the need for feedback and noted the plan is to expand the seed bank to other sites, with the Petit de Grat ECRL branch already expressing interest.

A number of varieties of seeds are available in the seed bank at the St. Peter’s library, located at 10036 Grenville Street.

The Dr. Kingston Memorial Community Health Centre successfully applied for the initial Time Bank grant from the provincial Department of Seniors in June 2018 and the initiative launched in August 2018. Funding was recently approved for its second year.

The Time Bank – which can be found at: richmondcounty.timebanks.org – has 107 members who have exchanged 168 time credits.