From the desk of Kate Hug, Branch Manager, Melrose Branch Library (4805 Foothill Blvd)...
Earlier this year, I applied for a Friends of the Oakland Public Library mini-grant, asking for $950 to establish a Seed Lending Library and to improve the backyard garden here at Melrose Branch. These projects are part of a longer-term goal: to increase community engagement through food, gardening, sharing of recipes, and seed lending.
Getting the garden up and running brought together staff, and along the way we found amazing adult community partners on whom we could rely. The dirt was sourced and ordered by a new patron, who saw us unloading the metal troughs and “wanted to get involved.” He brought along friends to help shovel dirt into buckets, cart them into the garden, and repeat. These gentlemen have taken it upon themselves to be responsible for watering.
The seed lending library is located upstairs. We found drawers that fit the aesthetic of the library and our Ready, Set, Connect intern learned all the ins and outs of Microsoft Publisher as we worked with him to design our “Seed Lending” and “Seed Saving” information brochures in both Spanish and English.
We had our Container Garden Party / Seed Lending Kick-Off party on June 23, and approximately 75 people attended (including 30 adults), despite the extremely hot weather. Patrons went upstairs to check out the Seed Lending, ate ice cream in the garden, painted terra cotta pots donated by Ace Hardware, and planted seeds.
We will be partnering with Scientific Adventures to continue to grow and expand our garden this fall. They will be teaching sustainable STEM programs and by winter will have built a butterfly enclosure in the garden.
The Melrose Garden was already beautiful and a welcome place of quiet respite for the East Oakland Community. Moving forward, we have plans of partnership as well as community driven ideas to plant medicinal plants for teas and salves this winter. Thank you so much for making this possible!
FOOTNOTE: The Friends of the Oakland Public Library offers annual mini-grants of up to $1,500 each to fund the implementation of a new service or program proposed by library staff. The Friends of the Oakland Public Library is an independent nonprofit that has been supporting the library since 1950. You can learn more about their work at www.fopl.org.