March 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

A Photo Gallery of Six Library Gardens

Garden3While researching our August, 2014 feature article “Dig It!,” about library gardens, we heard from a wide group of librarians undertaking inventive gardening projects with children. Here’s a photo gallery of what they were up to over this summer and last, along with descriptions.

C. Burr Artz Public Library, Frederick County, MD

Details from Stephanie Long, assistant children’s services supervisor: I started the garden last summer, 2013, on the terrace at the library in an effort to introduce inner-city children to the concept. Carly Reighard, a library associate in my branch, helped me with the project last year and this year. I had just come down to the main, urban branch in my system that January from a small, rural one. We have a lovely outdoor terrace on the second floor of my library, so it seemed the perfect spot.

We have three beds that we maintain: a corn and carrot bed, an herb bed, and a flower and veggie bed. The children came in May to help us plant the seeds and make signs to mark the dirt. They come every other Monday to help weed, water, and harvest. We start all of the programs with a garden-related book, an explanation of what’s growing, and a short tutorial on how we weed and harvest the garden. Once we weed and/or harvest, we let them water the garden. The program is designed for those aged three and up, so it’s not perfect. There are some carrots growing really close to the corn, but it’s grown very well this year, and the kids have been have a blast helping us with it.


Ames Public Library, Ames, IA

Details from Anastasia Tuckness, library assistant, youth services: We had a library garden last summer, from May through September, 2013. We used a plot in our city’s Community Garden that was 10 by 40 feet, which was huge! The Community Garden is located a few blocks from our library. We started it because we needed to do outdoor programming for the summer, since our building was under renovation, and it fit so well with the summer theme, “Dig into Reading.” We held weekly morning work sessions and monthly evening programs. We didn’t have a lot of attendance, and it was a lot of work, but we enjoyed it, and so did the people who came.

We kept a blog of the garden’s progress.


Orlando Public Library, Orlando, FL

Details from Diane Norris-Kuczynski, assistant head of youth services: The Orland Park Public Library has only one main library, located one block west of a major thoroughfare. As you can see from the  photos below, the seven containers are situated near our benches in the front of the library.  Although patrons have full access to the plants, they have never been picked, poked, or vandalized in any way.

This is the third year of our garden. We have grown strawberries, potatoes, carrots, assorted herbs, beans, peas, and peppers. The children in my environmental club care for the plants and are rewarded by harvesting the vegetables and herbs. I have to say, I have learned as much as the children have from this wonderful project. We learned this year that potatoes develop “berries” after flowering. These berries contain seeds that can be dried and used to plant new potatoes next year.


Shreve Memorial Library, Atkins Branch, Shreveport, LA

Details from Anika Parsons, assistant branch manager/adult services librarian: The gardening program was created because I have a history of gardening in my own family. I thought that it would be great to give the patrons of the library a look into the history, benefits, the “do not’s” and how-to’s of gardening. Although there are so many things that can be learned from this experience, I thought that the most important lessons to be learned were about “Earthly Goodness” and “How to Garden Anywhere,” the names of two programs we ran. They were comprised of bi-weekly informational and directional programs that coincided with the actual planting, upkeep, and harvesting of our own garden.

We invited master gardeners, culinary professionals, herbalists, and many others to give the participants a wealth of information from soil testing, water conservation, and pollution, to healthy eating choices and how to prepare these organically grown goodies. This is the second year that we have had a community garden and have planted and harvested crops throughout the entire year, with a focus on introducing new vegetables and fruit to the community. This program was devised with the entire family in mind and has yielded great fruit.


Matheson Memorial Library, Elkhorn, WI

Details from Jennifer Wharton, youth services librarian: The gardens began as part of our “We Explore” program series and were initially funded with budget money and as part of a grant from United Way. It is a collaborative project with the Elkhorn Area School District and Parent Connections Programs. We started this summer with three pizza gardens (tomatoes, peppers and basil) and with pumpkins. We plan to co-write a grant in the fall to expand the gardens next year.

Alameda County Library, Centerville Branch, Fremont, CA

Details from Annabelle Blackman, librarian II, Fremont Main-Children’s Dept, and a Girl Scout Troop Parent Leader:

The front of the library has been re-landscaped with drought-tolerant plants and a new bubbler (water-saving) system. Girl scouts helped with a landscape plant proposal and worked side by side with city workers on planting and irrigation system. The Fremont City Park Superintendent invited the troop to be part of this year’s Arbor Day declaration and tree planting.



  1. Library gardens–I love it! Check out the Seed Savers Series for fiction books with a gardening theme to continue garden literacy.