New 'library' honors Feed Iowa First founder

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MARION, Iowa (KCRG) - The home of thousands of stories added one more to its collection Saturday.

The Marion Public Library unveiled its new seed garden this weekend, named for Sonia Kendrick, the founder of Feed Iowa First, a non-profit that works to fight hunger across the state.

The work began two years ago, as a collaboration between Kendrick and Iowa BIG, a group of local high school students who work on community projects.

“Students come and partners from the community come in, and we try to think of a project to do to benefit the community and help them solve problems," said Chase Krug, a former Iowa BIG student who was the co-founder of the seed library project.

“The excitement and passion she had for it was wonderfully overwhelming," said Nate Pruett, a teacher with Iowa BIG.

Kendrick died last year, but the project carried on in her memory and with her name.

“Even if these kids can do this, a lot of us could be doing these things to follow Sonia’s mission to create a food-secure Linn County," Pruett said.

One in eight people in Iowa is food insecure, according to Feeding America. The goal of the seed library is to work to remedy that.

“Folks are able to come in, browse the seeds and take just what they need," said Madeline Jarvis, adult and information services manager of the Marion Public Library.

Kendrick's parents received the first loan from the new library Saturday, and their choice had a special significance.

“We chose peppers," her father, Robert Malone, said. "Peppers were one of her favorites. I mean, she loved all vegetables, flowers, plants, but peppers were something she grew a lot of and used a lot of.”

More people lined up after them to get their own seeds, including the students who helped make the project happen.

“Now there’s 15 Sonias that are 16, 17 years old, planting the seeds that she wanted to plant," Pruett said.

They're all part of a story that is still growing.

“We’re planting her pepper seeds really close to where she is right now, and we’re going to watch them grow," Malone said.