The LTPL Seed Sharing Library is a free program that lends seeds and encourages borrowers to return some seeds from their harvests to make the seed library self-sustaining. All seeds borrowed and shared at LTPL are open-pollinated seeds, and many of them are considered heirloom varieties since they have been grown for generations. We hope to nurture a culture of community, sharing, and abundance by providing a place where people can connect to the traditions of sustainability and homegrown, healthy food. Beginning and experienced gardeners alike will benefit from this new forum for exchanging seeds and information.
We use the former card catalog to organize and store the seeds. Seeds will be labeled as Easy, Intermediate, or Advanced so people can choose according to their seed-saving expertise. LTPL will support the Seed Sharing Library by providing information though flyers, books, and DVDs. We will offer programs pertaining to gardening, seed-saving, and food preservation throughout the year. Our website will provide documentation and links to online resources. For statistical purposes, registration is required to use the Seed Sharing Library and patrons must write down what they take and bring in. The program is run on the honor system and if for some reason you are unable to return seeds to the library at the end of the season you will not be penalized.
To borrow seeds from the Seed Sharing Library we ask that you fill out a registration form the first time you use it. From that point on, when you take seeds you simply write down your name, date, and what seeds you are taking on the clipboard. Take only as many as you can use in one season, and please limit yourself to one packet of each variety. Please make every effort to follow the correct seed saving instructions to assure the seeds you bring back to share at the end of the season will grow true to type.
To share seeds, first remove the seeds from their pods and clean according to the directions in the link “Harvesting & Storing Seeds”. Bring your clean, dry seeds to the library in an envelope, bag, or jar. Please use recycled containers if possible. Fill out a seed sharing form (available at the library and on the website) for each variety of seed you are sharing and tape or staple it to the container. Place your container and form in the seed drop-off box. The seeds will be packaged, labeled, and filed in the Seed Sharing Library by a staff member or volunteer.
The Lyon Township Community Garden
This year is bringing exciting changes to the Lyon Township Community Garden program.
The garden will now be managed as a joint effort by the Lyon Township Public Library and Lyon Township. The Township will continue to support the garden by mowing the pathways and perimeter, tilling in the spring, and providing water. The library is where you will go to turn in your tile(s) and registration paperwork. The library is open longer hours and on the weekends, expanding the hours available to register. The library also offers an extensive collection of gardening books, gardening programs, a Demonstration Garden, and a Seed Library.
Also new for this year is the ability for Lyon Township residents to keep the same garden plots from year to year. Returning residents can register in the fall for next spring. Improvements you make to your soil will remain for your benefit.
Another option available to those who choose to keep the same plot from year to year, is the ability to opt out of the annual spring tilling done by the township. This will allow you to get in to your allotment as early as you want in the spring and work your own soil, mulch, plant cool-weather crops, make raised beds, etc. You will still be responsible for cleaning up your area in the spring and fall and keeping it tidy. People opting out of the tilling must chose allotments in the north to south row closest to Milford Road. The tiles in that row will say “No Till.
There is no charge to Lyon Township residents for a garden plot. Priority will be given to Lyon Township residents for the Lyon Township Community Garden. Non-residents will be put on a waiting list and notified by May 21 if there are still openings. Non-residents are not eligible for fall registration. The City of South Lyon has a community garden that is available at no cost to city residents. Like the Lyon Township Community Garden, they give priority to residents of the City of South Lyon. If you want to investigate getting an allotment at the City of South Lyon Community Garden contact Judy at 248-437-1735.
On Saturday, August 25, the Lyon Township Library will host a Community Garden Harvest Potluck. Join your fellow gardeners for good food and good company. We will also discuss the next garden year come up with suggestions to make our garden even better in 2019.
Claiming a Garden Plot at the Lyon Township Community Garden
Garden Plots are open to Lyon Township residents and are available on a first come, first served basis. You may register on or after May 1, but you must refrain from planting until the township tills the area, which will be done as soon as weather allows. The water tanks are filled after danger of freezing has passed.
Each plot is marked with two letter blocks, both with the same letter. If the lower block is missing, that means someone has claimed that plot and it is no longer available for the season. You can claim up to two plots. To claim a plot for the season, simply remove the lower block and take it to the Lyon Township Library at 27005 Milford Rd, just south of Twelve Mile Rd. At the library you will be asked fill out a registration form and the plot(s) will be assigned to you. You will also be asked to acknowledge the garden rules and will be given a copy. Please become familiar with the rules before committing to a garden plot.
The Lyon Township Community Garden is located on Abbey Lane, in front of Abbey Park at Mill River (across from the Coyote Golf course on S. Milford Road). It is sponsored by Lyon Township and the Lyon Township Library to provide a garden area to Lyon Township residents who do not have the space to garden. The garden is also available to people who would like to grow extra food to donate to Active Faith or other community organizations that fight hunger. Non-residents may claim any open plots available after May 21. Contact Pam at the Lyon Township Library for more information: 248-437-8800 ext. 617 or email email@example.com
Lyon Township Community Garden Rules
General Rules and Information
- The Lyon Township community garden is managed and maintained as a joint effort of Lyon Township and the Lyon Township Public Library. The Township will support the garden by mowing the pathways and perimeter, tilling in the spring, and providing water. The library is where you will go to turn in your tile(s) and complete your registration. Questions and concerns should be directed to Pam at the library. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 248-437-8800 617. Leave a voicemail if necessary.
- Two water totes are available on-site for your use. They are filled by our local fire department on a regular basis. You will need a bucket, jug, or watering can to water your garden. Garden hoses are not allowed. If found onsite, they will be removed. If for some reason the totes are empty, please call 248-437-2240. PLEASE CONSERVE WATER by ensuring the spigot on each tote is completely turned off after use. Please report any damaged or leaking spigots.
- There is no trash pickup at the garden. Please take your trash with you when you leave.
- There is no secure place to keep garden tools. It is advised that you take your tools with you when you leave.
- DO NOT drive your vehicle onto the grass areas in and around the garden. Doing so may cause damage to the sprinkler heads operated by the adjacent property owner. Anyone found driving or parking a vehicle in or the around the garden area will be held accountable for any damages. You may only park along the roadside. It is recommended that you utilize a wagon to bring your materials/plants to and from your garden area.
- Gardens must be planted by June 11 or they will be given to the next person on the waiting list.
- If you do not want to continue gardening your plot for any reason during the growing season, please notify Pam at the library. Abandoning the garden and letting it go to weeds could result in in a service charge for labor and disposal by the township. If you are having trouble maintaining your garden due to unforeseen issues, please communicate with us and we will work with you to help overcome the hardship and prevent a larger problem down the road.
- Lyon Township residents who garden in 2018 will be able to pre-register for their same plots in the fall. You will be contacted in the spring in case your circumstances have changed.
- No-Till plots are available on the north-south row closest to Milford Road. If you want this option and the No-Till plots are all taken, please ask to be put on the waiting list for a No-Till allotment. You may get in to your garden as early as you want in the spring and work your own soil, mulch, plant cool-weather crops, make raised beds, etc. You will still be responsible for cleaning up your area in the spring and fall and keeping it tidy.
- Priority for garden space will be given to Lyon Township Residents. Non-residents will be put on a waiting list and notified by May 21 if there are still openings. Non-residents are not eligible for fall registration. Residents of the City of South Lyon can call Judy at 248-437-1735 to inquire about the South Lyon Community Garden.
- Please donate surplus produce to Active Faith in South Lyon or another food bank. Active Faith can be reached at 248-437-9790.
- Please be courteous and respectful to your fellow gardeners and our neighbors at Abbey Park. Loud music, foul language, discriminatory behavior, and disruptive or damaging activities are not permitted. Smoking, chewing tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs are not allowed in the community garden.
- Do not enter a neighboring garden without permission, and do not take anything from another garden, even if it looks untended. Offenders will permanently lose their garden privileges.
- Guests and children are welcome and must be supervised. You will be responsible and liable for their conduct and safety. Everyone is expected to follow the rules and guidelines of the Community Garden. Service animals are allowed, and friendly pets on a short leash are allowed if they can be kept from being a nuisance to other gardeners. They must not be allowed to enter another garden plot. Animal waste must be bagged and taken with you. Consider the feelings of your fellow gardeners at all times, as some people have a fear or distrust of animals.
- Inappropriate behavior, damage to the property, or failure to follow the above rules will be grounds for expulsion from the garden program and possible fines.
Garden Rules and Information
- The Lyon Township Community Garden is an organic garden. The use of pesticides and herbicides is not permitted. For information on how to garden without chemicals, please visit the library.
- It is usually safe to plant tender plants like tomatoes by Memorial Day weekend. It is still possible to get frosts through the first week of June, however, so watch the forecasts and be prepared to cover your tender crops if forecasts predict temperatures in the low 30s.
- Vegetable, fruits, flowers and herbs may be grown in the garden. Invasive plants such as mint, raspberries, bamboo, or comfrey must be planted in containers. Toxic and allergenic plants such as poke and castor are not allowed as they pose a danger to children.
- Gardeners are expected to keep their allotments neat and productive though removal of weeds and regular harvesting. Avoid letting plants go to seed and becoming a nuisance to neighboring plots. Please try to keep pathways and divisions between gardens free of weeds. If your plot becomes excessively weedy, you will receive a notice of non-compliance by email or telephone. You will have one week from that contact to remove the weeds. Failure to do so may result in your allotment being revoked and assigned to another gardener.
- All plants, containers, trellises, decorations, etc. must be placed inside the perimeter of your garden. Avoid growing plants near the edge of your garden that will flop over into the pathway or a neighboring garden. Please respect your neighboring gardener’s plants by not placing tall crops, container plants, trellises, or decorations where they will shade nearby gardens.
- To protect your garden from wild animals you may place wire fencing around your plot. Fencing should be no more than four feet in height and posts must not be made of treated lumber. Plot edges and fencing are to be kept free of weeds. Fences must be removed in the fall.
- You are welcome to put lumber around your plot to make a raised bed. However, unless you are gardening in the no-till area, it must be removed in the fall.
- Biodegradable mulches such as compost, straw, leaves, and fine wood mulch may be used. No-till gardens may use longer-lasting wood mulches. Black plastic or woven groundcover may be used as long as it is removed by fall clean-up. You must remove any non-plant material by October 31st. Failure to do so may result in a service charge for labor and disposal by the township.
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LTPL Grows is an initiative that began with our Seed Sharing Library in 2013 and was followed by our Demonstration Garden in 2014. We have programs all year round that include all aspects of gardening, preserving, foraging, herbs, permaculture, beekeeping and indoor growing. We house an excellent collection of books and DVDs about gardening, cooking, and living sustainably. If you are a gardener, or want to become one, please visit the Lyon Township Public Library. Whether you have acres of land or a balcony, we are here to help you get growing!
The LTPL Demonstration Garden began as a means to bring to life some of the techniques learned through various programs being offered at the library. It is an organic garden, which means we use no chemicals for pest or weed control. All crops planted in the garden are open-pollinated, which means the seed can be saved from year to year. The purpose of planting open-pollinated crops that allow us to save the seed is threefold: to increase the amount of available seed of the plant, to identify where each crop grows best, and to raise awareness of the plight of disappearing diversity in our food system. Please click on the Seed Sharing Library for more information about sharing open-pollinated seeds.
In 2018 the theme of our LTPL Demonstration Garden is “Every Seed Has a Story.” All seeds have a story, but we have chosen a few with especially interesting stories to highlight this year.
The pole bean varieties we will be growing on the trellis in the LTPL Demonstration Garden are:
Cherokee Trail of Tears Pole Bean: This heirloom was brought from Tennessee by the Cherokee people as they were marched across the Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma by our Federal Government in 1839. This winter death march is known as the Trail of Tears, and over 4,000 Native Americans suffered and died making the trip. This bean variety was donated to Seed Savers Exchange in 1977 by one of the descendants of those people, Dr. John Wyche from Hugo, Oklahoma. This prolific variety is good as a snap or dry bean and has shiny, black beans that grow on vigorous vines.
King’s Banquet Pole Bean: Found in an abandoned warehouse in Colorado, the beans were sent to a seed repository where they were released to a few citizen growers for the purpose of increasing the supply. Still a very rare bean and not offered in commerce, we were gifted a dozen seed from seed saver/heirloom bean addict Karen Golden so we can help this beautiful bean grow in numbers.
Kermit’s Smokey Mountain Pole Bean: This historic pole bean variety was grown in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee by the Caughron Family of Cades Cove. The seed was brought to Michigan 25 years ago by a couple that received the beans from Kermit Caughron, the last man to live in Smoky Mountain National Park. When the national park was created, all private residences were phased out, and Kermit refused to leave the homestead his family had farmed for five generations. He was allowed to live there until he died. When Michigan seed-saver Ben Cohen received the seeds in 2016 he grew them out and in 2017 he presented them to the Cade’s Cove Museum in Marysville, Tennessee, where they are displayed along with mementos of the Caughron family.
Succotash Pole Bean: This bean has the unusual distinction of looking like kernels of black corn. Originally grown by North American indigenous people from the Northeast, it is traditionally combined with corn, tomatoes, okra, and peppers in a dish by the same name.
Chester/Flagg/Skunk: This pole bean has several names, but it originated with the Iroquois tribes of the Northeast. Gail Flagg of Fort Kent, Maine claims she received it from a farmer in the area of Chester, Vermont. Adapted to short seasons like we have in Michigan, it is a large, meaty bean with black and white stripes and flecks.
Giant Nilgiri Pole Bean: The story of these beautiful and rare blue speckled beans began in India where the seeds were collected by intrepid seed explorers and brought to the U.S.
Neabel’s Ukrainian Pole Bean: Brought to the US from the Ukraine after WWII and nurtured by seed savers to this day. It is a large maroon bean with white specks.
The Tomatoes we will be growing this year are mostly cherry tomatoes, and we encourage snacking when they are ready to eat!
Blueberries Cherry Tomato: Not yet an heirloom, but it does have a history. Breeding for this tomato started in the 1960s by crossing cultivated varieties of tomato with wild stock from Chile and the Galapagos Islands. Developed by Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms, this blue-black cherry tomato is sweet and productive, and the plant foliage is as beautifully dark as the tomatoes themselves. It is also very nutritious due to the deep coloration.
Yellow Pear Cherry Tomato: These little gems were grown in Europe as early as 1752, and were being grown in the New World as early as 1825. There probably are few people alive that don’t remember eating these tomatoes as a child. Their cute shape, sunny color, and mild flavor has never been out of style. The tomatoes are small but the vines are large and vigorous.
Chadwick Cherry Tomato: This productive red cherry tomato was developed by the late Alan Chadwick, an Englishman who eventually moved California and is considered one of the fathers of the organic and bio-dynamic gardening movements that began in the 1960s. He selected for size, flavor, and texture as well as an ability to grow well in different areas of the country. Chadwick Cherry Tomatoes are big cherries and very productive.
Mexico Midget: The name refers to the clusters of small red fruits, not the vigorous vine! The flavorful fruits won Seed Saver’s Exchange’s Tomato Tasting Contest in 2014. The seeds were originally brought to California by a truck driver who found them growing wild in Mexico.
Nebraska Wedding Tomato: this Great Plains heirloom was served at weddings and the seeds were given to the brides to save and grow in their own gardens. The seeds of the deep orange tomato are still given as gifts to this day.
“Three Sisters” is a Native American term for a polyculture planting method using corn, beans, and squash (and sometimes sunflowers) allowing the three crop types to work together in harmony. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil that is used by the corn, and the corn provides support for the beans. The squash has prickly vines and discourages predators from raiding the garden, while its large leaves shade the soil and conserve moisture. In the traditional planting, the corn is planted first, then when it is several inches tall the beans are planted near the stalks so they can climb as the corn grows.
Seed for the three crops we will feature in our “Three Sisters” planting in the Demonstration Garden was given to us by Rowen White at the Central Michigan Seed Swap where she was the 2018 keynote speaker. Rowen White is a Seed Keeper from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne and is an activist and educator for indigenous seed sovereignty.
Mohawk Red bread corn: a sacred and ancient variety of corn that is saved by indigenous people to this day and is not available commercially. It is originally from Native American tribes in the New York region.
Buckskin Bean AKA Yellow Indian Woman Bean: this bean started its journey in Mexico, where it eventually landed in Sweden, and was then taken to Buckeye, Montana by immigrants. Still grown by Native Americans, this yellow bean is dried for use as a soup bean. Buckskin is a half-runner bean, which means it climbs to about 3 feet. This is the perfect type of bean for the Three Sisters planting because it will not overwhelm the corn plant it is growing on.
Buffalo Creek Squash: This squash was grown by the indigenous Seneca people of what is now New York, although its ancient roots are in South America. Seeds from the Buffalo Creek Squash eventually reached Boston where it became very popular. People loved the taste and texture and it was renamed the ‘Boston Marrow’ squash. They grow to about 10 to 15 pounds and have sweet, fine-grained flesh. By the mid-1800s it was one of the most important commercial squash varieties available and remained so for nearly 150 years. However, like many heirloom varieties, it had all but disappeared from commerce by the end of the 1900s. Seed Keepers have reclaimed the squash and returned its rightful name.
Become a volunteer at the LTPL Demonstration Garden! We always need help with weeding and watering. Even once or twice over the course of the summer would be a big help!
Our Demonstration Garden Wish List:
- Bags of natural hardwood mulch for the paths. No dyed mulch near food crops, please!
- Bagged material: compost, peat, potting soil
- Mulch and compost: Bales of straw (spoiled straw OK), shredded leaves or grass clippings from untreated lawns
Contact Pam at email@example.com if you are interested in volunteering with the LTPL Demonstration Garden.
About the LTPL Demonstration Garden
Matthew Deeds designed and built our demonstration garden as his Eagle Scout project in 2014. We used a technique called sheet composting, or “lasagna gardening” to kill the sod and prepare the area for growing. We put layers of newspapers, leaves, and straw and allowed them to break down over the fall and winter. The next spring, Tuthill Farms donated compost to jump-start the garden, and we also had some bales of straw donated by residents for mulching. The 2015 garden was a jungle, with record-breaking size tomato plants. The next year we grew the ingredients for making salsa, and Grand River feed donated several bales of straw for mulch.
In 2017, South Lyon Pack 336, Den 4 Wolves from Kent Lake Elementary School built a sturdy trellis structure as a service project. We would like to thank Lowes, Home Depot, and Tractor Supply Company for donating materials for the trellis. Scouts from South Lyon Pack 336 installed a three-section compost bin in 2016.
Sources for Open Pollinated Seeds
- Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
- Ann Arbor Seed Company (MI)
- Annie’s Heirloom Seeds (MI)
- Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
- Seed Savers Exchange
- High Mowing Seeds
- Pinetree Garden Seeds
- Territorial Seed
- Johnny’s Selected Seeds
- Nature & Nurture Seeds (MI)
- Fedco Seeds
- Orchard House Heirlooms (MI)
- Nichols Garden Nursery
- Victory Seeds
- Michigan Heirlooms (plants only) (MI)
- Great Lakes Staple Seeds (MI)
- Sherck Seeds
- Uprising Seeds
- Old House Gardens (bulbs & tubers) (MI)
- Prairie Moon Nursery
- Hudson Valley Seed Company
- Small House Farms (MI)