INDIANAPOLIS – If you have plans to head to the library this weekend, there’s something unique you can check out with your library card. And you don’t have to return it!

The Indianapolis Public Library is letting you check out seeds. You can pick up packets of herbs, vegetables, even flowers, and take them home with you to grow.

There are 19 locations around the city where you’ll find seed libraries. Volunteers help put together packets with instructions included.

Purdue Extension Marion County helped design the program with master gardeners because they say libraries are invested in the communities they serve.

When there are food deserts, programs like this can help give people the tools they need.

“Since we buy them new every year, you know they’re good and you’re going to have good germination and what’s inside the packet is really designed to be enough for a family of four, for one season,” said librarian Anika Williams.

The seeds that are selected are able to grow in a traditional garden but also containers. It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Last year, roughly 22,000 seeds were given out.

While this program isn’t new, there is a partnership with IUPUI this year that is. Along with the seed library, there are also free lead test kits for people who live in Marion County.

Along with food insecurity, residual lead is a public health problem.

“If you live inside the 465 loop chances are your home was built before 1980 and residual lead, especially in the soil, is a huge public health problem. It affects children the most of all.” Williams added, “You can go to one of our participating seed library branches and get a test kit. You can test your soil – your water, some dust inside your house.”

The seed library program runs now through October.

You can click here to see the programming the Indianapolis Public Library offers along with this.