Growing Smarter (and easier!)

UrbMat-Clean-Full_I saw this article in my Terp Alumni Magazine (MLIS UMd 1997!) about alums who have created a blueprint garden called a Nourishmat (check out their funded kickstarter). It’s a 6×4 foot UV treated polypropylene mat with pre-cut holes, labels and grid to tell you where to plant what and helps combat weeds. It comes with 98 seed balls – a variety of herbs and veggies and outfitted with an easy to attached hose to its drip irrigation system. Basically an easy way for ANYONE to start gardening! Looking recently for more info on the product I see it is now called UrbnEarth. You can order a variety of non GMO seeds too!

Gardening Resource

This infographic below (from but created by Goodtobehome) could be a fun resource to hang in your library or use to start a garden with your school, public library community or campus. OR, use this example as a template to create one of your own for your area. Note that the infographic is for a zone in Great Britain so it might not correlate directly to your area. But some things I like about this are the visual display of companion plantings, the “did you know” section or tips, and even the planting legend and chart showing spacing, propagation, etc.

UK housing energy fact file infographic

More seed lending libraries cropping up

duluthJust read the news on the first seed lending library in Minnesota at  Duluth Public Library voted by the Duluth City Council in August 2012. The program was developed through an initial partnership with the Institute for a Sustainable Future and now includes the St. Louis County Extension Master Gardeners and the Duluth Community Garden Program. The goal like many seed lending libraries is to develop regionally adapted seed stock and patrons can them come and pick up seed. There will also be an educational component with classes and seminars and of course books and resources to help gardeners (read more in their FAQs).

There are over 60 seed lending libraries in the US now. Check out this map of seed library locations and this seed lending social network.

Checking out veggies @ your library

Check out the City Island Library(in Bronx, NY) offering unique items to check out – a bowl of home grown veggies!  More and more libraries are gardening – from campus gardens to edible school yards to public library staff like this one creating their own little garden. Even a small urban branch library like this City Island Library, still manages to offer a nice reading space for patrons in the backyard along with various vegetable and herb plants that partrons can pick themselves or grab from the bowl at the checkout desk.

There are other library gardening ventures such as the  LibraryFarm  – an  organic community garden on one-half acre of land owned by Northern Onondaga Public Library in Cicero, NY, teaching food literacy and offering (no cost) plots for patrons.  if you know of others, please share by commenting or emailing me directly 🙂

Seed Lending Library

How cool – the Richmond (CA) created a Seed Lending Library! It’s a free urban seed project located in the public library, opened in May of this year,where anyone can borrow seeds but after they harvest, they are to return seeds.  Seeds are organized by plant families, labeled well with information on the common and scientific names, the variety, former growers name, location of garden, year they seeds were harvested and other helpful tidbits.  One issue is teaching people how to save seeds properly and thus they offer several videos on the process. Here is information on how to use the library and also how to CREATE YOUR OWN seed lending library!  They are asking for donations as well to support this project to continue.  Read more about this project and get inspired … hopefully we’ll see more libraries offering this type of service and more entrepreneurial ideas like this one.

Urban Rooftop Gardening

Rooftop gardens offer energy savings by providing better insulation, reducing heat affect on building, and cutting back on storm water runoff. But they also offer educational space  (for school kids growing their veggies for school cafeteria to social service projects teaching people how to garden and cook), personal gardening, community gathering (shared rooftop gardens for an apartment building), and healthy living in a city. Rooftop gardens also offer longer growing season and less pests. Many cities and/or states  –  Chicago, San Francisco, and New York State, etc – are encouraging rooftop gardens and offering tax incentives.  Read this NYT article (6/16/09) for more information and check with your state to see if you can get a tax break or other incentive to start a green roof on your library.

Are you in an urban setting?

Look into the idea of Urban Homesteading for your library and to educate your library patrons.  It’s the idea that even in an urban setting you can be a bit of a farmer –  from container gardening to having chickens –  thus creating a better lifestyle for yourself and your family with local, in season, healthy and cheaper choices of food.   California even has an Institute for Urban Homesteading who’s principals “preserve a slower, more intentional, more sustainable and more pleasurable way of life, rescue the lost arts of the garden, the kitchen and things done by hand and imbue everyday tasks with wonder and beauty.”

Perhaps a library could host local experts teaching workshops such as raising chickens in your backyard, beekeeping, canning, making yogurt, producing fruit and honey wines and cheese making.

Check out Fallen Fruit web site, which is attempting to map locations of  public fruit in neighborhoods around the country(public fruit is fruit that overhangs sidewalks, parking lots, streets, etc.)