The Settlement Library Project

The Settlement Library Project
"Providing educational and service opportunities for the people of the mountains, while keeping them mindful of their heritage."

Food is Power . . . and Friendship

Your Small, Rural Library CAN Grow a Library Garden!

Does your small rural library advocate for the needs of your community?
Do you have a garden club that meets locally?
Do you have land available in close proximity to your library?
Do you have access to a Master Gardener or a University Extension Service?

Do you know that you can reflect the history and culture of your community through a library garden, and that you probably have everything you need to turn a small space outside your library into a garden?

Do you know that grants are available to support library garden projects?

It doesn't take much money, and doesn't have to be elaborate, requiring only a little elbow grease easily distributed between you and your volunteers. And if you don't have the ground, use pots and planters instead.

But in a rural community almost everyone has had their hands in the dirt at one time or another. You can incorporate vacant outdoor space into a library program (without spending money that you don't have) by employing a garden that can be enjoyed by library patrons, community residents, visitors, and staff and volunteers. For your small library functioning on a shoestring, this marketing idea has the potential to be GREAT!

I think these two particular libraries are fabulous examples of what a small, rural community can do for their residents by combining local history, and community action, with a library garden:

Many activities and programs can be developed around a garden plot including teen's, senior's, and children's. And don't forget the differently abled and homeless: They love gardens too, and could probably benefit from the experience. I have always advocated for these demographics to get together at the library, and this is the ideal opportunity.

Here is what you can offer your library users through a library garden:

A new range of clubs. 
Skills development including science and gardening techniques, as well as language and literacy.
Art classes using nature prints and printmaking.
Cooking and preserving classes that share the harvest. 

Get the community involved by offering information presentations and hands-on experience. Advocate for these types of groups to help out: 

The Girl Scouts and Eagle Scouts
The United Way
4-H Clubs
Local schools and churches
VFW and disabled veterans groups
Master Gardeners and Junior Master Gardeners
The CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
And when it's up and growing, don't forget the library garden newsletter!
Resources to help you start:

School Library Journal “Dig It! Library Gardens Sprout Up Coast-to-Coast” News “Growing Library Garden Programs” by Jennifer Peterson.
Library for garden landscaping ideas for libraries.
International Junior Master Gardeners
Extension: Cooperative Extension System Master Gardener information

So, what's stopping you from creating a library outdoor space for your community--in whatever space you have available--and promoting your library as a community-gathering place?

Brought to you by The Settlement Library Project:
Serving People, Broadening Perspectives, and Sharing Resources in Libraries.

image:  Thanks to Emily Baltes at Middle Library 

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Remembering the Old Home Place of Rural Appalachia

Remembering the Old Home Place of Rural Appalachia
by PL Van Nest - used by permission (click on image to access collection)