Upon hearing news of First Lady Michelle Obama's surprise visit to school and community gardens, we thought it would be a good time to collect together a list of related resources and examples of libraries that are creating gardens and hosting garden programming. Many public libraries are connecting to community partners and transforming spaces to engage patrons of all ages in growing library garden programs. Perhaps the First Lady could visit some of the many library gardens next!
Libraries with Gardens
- Let's Move Libraries, a website collecting resources related to gardening in library programs, as part of movement-based programs. On Facebook and Twitter.
- Middle Country Public Library's Nature Explorium in New York. Learn all about this innovative garden in a WebJunction webinar, Explore and Discover: Nature-Based Spaces and Activities at your Library. See Growing Nature Literacy in Libraries Resource Book (pdf).
- Westbank Community Garden at Westbank Libraries in Texas rents out fourteen 8' x 8' organic plots to community members.
- Waterford Township Public Library in Michigan has transformed landscaping beds at the library into a Children's Sensory Garden and an active Library Garden Club maintains the space and provides programs.
- Berkeley County Library System in South Carolina hosts the Sangaree Community Garden which was developed through a Community Grant from Home Depot and with the support of the Sangaree Special Tax District. Check out the photos of the creation of the garden last June on Facebook.
- Pizza Garden at the Reisterstown Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library is a container garden including ingredients used in pizza, such as basil, onions, oregano, parsley and peppers.
- The Pine River Community Garden is at Colorado's Pine River Library, the 2014 Best Small Library in America. (We covered their inaugural Zucchini Extravaganza in Social Library 31).
- New River Library Community Garden is at a Pasco County Library in Florida. There's a wonderful Pay It Forward video from the Tampa Bay Library Consortium explaining how the garden came about and is sustained.
- The Lonoke Lions Club and other volunteers built a Children's Learning Garden for the Marjorie Walker McCrary Memorial Library, in Lonoke, Arkansas.
- Gilmer County Public Library in Georgia hosts a Demonstration Garden in collaboration with the Master Gardener program, a volunteer training program with the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.
- Plain City Public Library in Ohio is home to the Community Garden Project which started in 2010.
- The Olympia Timberland Library in Washington has a Community Garden [that] Engages Homeless Patrons and Non-Profit Neighbors.
- The JMG Cody Children's Library in Wyoming is part of a national campaign with Junior Master Gardeners. See blog post on WyomingLibraries.org.
- Read & Feed Community Garden in Harrison Michigan. The mission of the garden is to help meet the basic needs of library patrons and the community at large. In meeting those needs we strive to promote reading, encourage lifelong learning and increase library use. Excess produce will also be donated to the Stone Soup Project. Our goals include increasing access to fresh produce, teaching self-sufficiency skills, continuing to position the library as a community asset, and creating opportunities for physical health and education.
- Salem-South Lyon District Library Gardens in Michigan, maintained by 30 garden volunteers.
- An article in the Chicago Tribune about the Vernon Area Library in Lincolnshire, Illinois: Library garden benefits local food pantry clients
- Wayne County Public Library - Summer Garden Program and about how it started
- Walkertown Public Library (Forsyth County) Community Garden
- Beautiful Rainbow Cafe, a collaboration of the Gadsden City Schools, City of Gadsden, and Gadsden Public Library. See Gadsden City High School program a tasty success, 12/5/17
More Library Gardens in the News
- Dig It! Library Gardens Sprout Up Coast-to-Coast (and photo gallery), School Library Journal, August 2014
- The STEM Garden, Public Libraries Online, January 2016
- Library Garden Provides ‘Rest Stop’ for Monarch Butterflies, USDA Blog, December 2015
- Archive available from April 5 webinar Food for Thought: building a better community through food, from Washington State Library (look in right rail under Recent Broadcasts)
Related Initiatives and Resources
- The Edible Schoolyard Project, created by Alice Waters, includes a wealth of resources useful to library garden projects, along with a number of library sites.
- Let’s Move! (archived site) was a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to putting children on the path to a healthy future during their earliest months and years; giving parents helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices; providing healthier foods in our schools; ensuring that every family has access to healthy, affordable food; and helping children become more physically active. See related resources in:
- Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens: There are 625 museums and gardens representing all 50 states and D.C. that have signed on to provide interactive exhibits, outdoor spaces, gardens and programs that help children and families learn about healthy foods and get out and play!
- Community Garden Resource Guide (PDF): full of resources and guidance on how libraries can initiate, expand and coordinate activities that make their communities places of wellness for kids and families. See also Community Garden Checklist (PDF)
- Slow Food USA's National School Garden Program: Aims to reconnect youth with their food by teaching them how to grow, cook and enjoy real food.
Site includes manuals, guides and documents created by Slow Food leaders to support activities in school gardens.
- USDA, The People's Garden: A collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country. The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods in a common effort and inspire locally led solutions to challenges facing our country, from hunger to the environment.
- EatPlayGrow™: An early childhood health curriculum developed by the Children's Museum of Manhattan in partnership with the National Institutes of Health.
- Shared on PAFA.net, news of Amazing Seeds: A Kids Guide to Strange and Wonderful Garden Veggies, available to libraries in bulk for free from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.
- On racial equity in food systems, see Center for Environmental Farming Systems, Committee on Racial Equity in the Food System at North Carolina State University, and Food System Racial Equity Assessment Tool: A Facilitation Guide from University of Wisconsin
Seed Library Examples and Resources
- Seed Libraries: What They Are & How To Start One, Syracuse University iSchools' Information Space, May 2012
- Caro Area District Library in Michigan hosts a Seed Saving and Lending Library Program including a Home Grown Food Series, with gardening classes, canning workshops, composting 101 and other classes of this nature. And just last month a local greenhouse donated their first square foot garden.
- Michigan Seed Libraries resources.
- Galena Public Library, Seed Lending Library
- The High Plains Seed Library in Wyoming. See blog post on WyomingLibraries.org
- Duluth Public Library in Minnesota
- Iowa Seed Libraries
- The Seed Library Social Network
- Hartland Seed Library in Vermont
- PC Sweeny on the East Palo Alto Seed Library
- T.B. Scott Library, Seed Library in Wisconsin
- Orcas Island Seed Library in Washington
- Seed Savers Exchange
- Richmond Public Library and Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, in California
- Grant County Library, Community Seed Library in Kansas
- Vegetable and herb seeds will be available at Stratford library, 1/7/18
And if your library's not ready to grow its own garden or host a seed library, consider gathering a group of library staff to volunteer at a local Giving Garden! WebJunction and other OCLC staff volunteered as part of United Way's Day of Caring in 2014 at a local P-Patch that dedicates beds for growing produce that is donated to local food pantries.
If you have resources or examples to share, please let us know in the comments below, on social media or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.