Library seeks to feed mind and body with new garden

(Delmarvanow.com) -- The Northampton Free Library is bringing more than books to the community this fall.

The Nassawadox library held a groundbreaking celebration for its community garden Friday, Sept. 29, in conjunction with the first Feed Virginia Day of Action.

The library is seeking volunteers to help tend the garden, which will provide free produce for growers, library visitors and possibly the Foodbank, said Youth Services Librarian Janice Felker.

“It’s such a cool thing for kids to get involved in growing food,” said Christina Ruszczyk-Murray, extension agent with the Virginia Cooperative Extension, who helped host the event.

“I’m hoping that a lot of people can volunteer,” Felker said. “What I like about this is that families can come together and the kids can learn.”

The community garden project has been six months in the making, starting with a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program mini-grant for $800 to purchase the soil, lumber and tools to launch the project, Murray said.

Work on the garden will begin in earnest soon, with fall crops such as lettuce, kale and broccoli going into the 3-by-30-foot garden, Felker said.

She is seeking volunteers to help tend to the space alongside Master Naturalist Phil Goetkin. The focus will be on introducing children to gardening, but adult help is needed, too, she said.

“If they grow it themselves, they’re more likely to eat it,” Murray said of the proposed kids club for the community project. “If you buy a cauliflower at the supermarket, it’s not necessarily something that’s appealing to a child. But if they got to watch it happen and cut the head themselves, they want to try it.”

Student Olivia Phillips agreed. “I like watering them and looking at how they grow,” she said of the plants.

Many libraries are adopting free resources beyond books to help build a community around the spaces, Felker said.

Eastern Shore public libraries held an eight-week summer feeding program this year, part of the No Kid Hungry campaign spearheaded by First Lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe.

The organization is already considering gardens or other outdoor spaces for its new site in Parksley, Felker said.

“The focus has been on getting food to kids and getting good food to kids,” she said.

“My visions … is this is a community garden and we become even more of a community here,” Felker said. “If everything kicks off and goes well, we might expand.”

Everyone is invited to participate in the Northampton Free Library’s community garden.

To get involved, send your name, email address, phone number and how you would most like to help HERE, or in a message to youth services on Facebook. You can also give your information in person at the Northampton Free Library, 7745 Seaside Road in Nassawadox.

The library is open Mondays through Wednesday sand Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Delmarvanow.com


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