Teale Phelps Bondaroff (from left) with Rob Boyce, Lara Lannon, Blesela Garachico and Joe Mercer. The group of neighbours maintains a seed/seedling exchange box on Dunedin Street in Saanich. (Courtesy of Blesela Garachico)

Teale Phelps Bondaroff (from left) with Rob Boyce, Lara Lannon, Blesela Garachico and Joe Mercer. The group of neighbours maintains a seed/seedling exchange box on Dunedin Street in Saanich. (Courtesy of Blesela Garachico)

Pollinators, pokemon come together in Greater Victoria’s latest little library

Seedling libraries get their own designation on Victoria Placemaking interactive map

Green dots are sprouting on the Victoria Placemaking interactive map that marks little free libraries in Greater Victoria. The organization opted to add the dots earlier this year after three seed libraries sprang up in Colwood. Last year, the lone James Bay seed library was on the map, but now the growing community cupboards have their own green dot designation.

It’s time for folks to get in the habit of bringing packets of seeds out on their walks, said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, the man who adds the dots.

READ ALSO: Victoria gardeners scramble to create local seed exchanges

“I’m really excited to see the diversity of little free libraries in town, the way that people iterate off of the basic principle of a little lending box is inspiring,” he said. “Little free seed libraries are fantastic because, in addition to building community and helping share seeds, they also encourage people to get into seed saving. This year, I carefully harvested seeds from our community garden’s thriving chive plant to share in the city’s little free seed libraries, and I’m currently collecting arugula seeds.”

Two recent library builders, Joe Mercer and Blesela Garachico, play the augmented reality game Pokemon Go, which features points of interest that offer in-game prizes and opportunities. The couple noticed that many of the PokeStops, as the points of interest are called, marked little free libraries in the community.

Mercer said Garachico also developed a small addiction to gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Right from the start, there was a dedication in the deck area, to planting to support pollinators. Garachico noted someone mentioning one of the seed libraries on a gardening Facebook page.

READ ALSO: Greater Victoria group delivering reconciliation materials to Little Free Libraries

It was a light bulb moment marrying two passions.

After a little asking around, Garachico was referred to Victoria Placemaking where Phelps Bondaroff hooked them up with a ready-made library someone had on hand that turned out too small for books.

“I was like ‘yeah we’ll take it.’ I wasn’t expecting it to be that quick,” Garachico said.

She tweaked the theme a bit, painting over a scholarly owl, and it became the 550th little library in Greater Victoria, after being placed in Saanich on Dunedin Street.

“I’ve been into saving the pollinators so I had to put butterflies and bees on this thing,” she said.

But there’s been no word yet on the potential for a PokeStop at the site.

Long a proponent of the little free libraries as community hubs, Phelps Bondaroff noted, the homemade book exchange boxes create an inclusive, inviting public space where neighbours can meet to share books, ideas, or small talk.

And people are looking at their neighbourhoods and filling voids. In Greater Victoria, there are a couple of little free puzzle and game exchange boxes, boxes dedicated to sharing food and household items and to sharing toys and activities.

There are at least three little free art galleries.

Some little free libraries are dedicated to specific types of books, such as children’s books or poetry. Phelps Bondaroff is currently helping a local francophone society set up a little free library just for French language books.

Find the map or learn how to create your own little community space at victoriaplacemaking.ca/little-free-libraries.

c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca


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