The harvest has been bountiful at the Olympia Timberland Library this summer, with new garden beds yielding learning opportunities as well as produce donations.
This spring, the library joined the urban farming movement. Teaming up with Garden-Raised Bounty (GRuB) — a local nonprofit with a motto of “growing healthy food, people and communities” — volunteers constructed three raised garden beds and began planting.
All produce is donated to Food not Bombs, a local nonprofit organization that has served meals at the library every Saturday afternoon for several years. Any additional produce is donated to the Thurston County Food Bank.
Donna Feddern, library manager, said GRuB had approached the library, asking if they would like to have a garden.
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Feddern said many libraries in the country have interactive learning techniques and she thought a garden would be a good opportunity because food programming events have been popular at the library. She also wanted to connect to the community’s urban agriculture movement.
With the garden, the library is able to teach and train, because the garden works as a demonstration.
The three garden beds, installed in April, were paid for by Friends of the Olympia Library. Feddern said the library got about $100 from the Friends and was also able to purchase a hose, gardening tools and gloves.
Seeds came from GRuB.
So far Feddern said she’s seen excitement from Food Not Bombs and the food bank.
Now that the first round has gone through, the library has done a second planting, including new things like herbs. A composting program was also started.
“It makes everyone happy. Everyone walks by and compliments the garden,” Feddern said.
However, Feddern said they could still use some more volunteers. They are trying to recruit a lead volunteer to be responsible for the garden in the changing season, prepping for winter.
She said it’s exciting to “let people who visit the library watch it change through the seasons.”
“I think it’s nice that it’s brought together this little neighborhood here,” Feddern said. “So many people are interested in urban agriculture, and we want to support that interest in our community.”
Katie Rains, GRuB executive director, lives near the library and said the garden is “lovely to see.”
By partnering with local businesses, GRuB is able to bring skills and gardening knowledge to the community at a greater capacity, Rains said.
Because GRuB could not possibly manage hundreds of gardens throughout Olympia, the partnerships help spread their reach.
The library garden beds were the first garden GRuB built this year. GRuB supplied volunteers for installation and also for planting.
Rains said Feddern was able to jump through many hoops to get the garden built on public land.
Feddern also brought in volunteers — people from the library, Interfaith Works Overnight Emergency Shelter, Common Ground Farm and more — who help with planting and watering.
“I have so much appreciation for Donna and the library. They’re able to bring folks together around their needs,” Rains said. “They have vision and desire to connect people and where they are already going.”
In addition to the library garden beds, Rains said GRuB has gardens at several schools and at a couple other local businesses, including Olympia Pediatrics — where kids can sample the produce in the gardening while waiting for appointments.
You can contact GRuB by calling 360-753-5522 or by visiting goodgrub.org. To get involved at the library, call Feddern at the library: 360-352-0595.