Garden in a Box Library Demo Gardens: Another Year "In The Books"

Last week--with still no frost in sight--I collected the last of the Garden in a Box Library Demo Gardens. We are thankful that several local libraries helped us to promote the program this year by hosting demo gardens outside as well as the Garden in a Box Resource Binders inside. Each of the participating libraries received a salad garden planted with chard, cherry tomato, lettuce, and cucumber.

Abbott Library Director Liz smiles as she pushes a very full container garden along the sidewalk using a rolling dolly.
Abbott Memorial Library Director Liz Breault helped tote the demo garden away for the season.

Our Garden in a Box program is designed to help those with limited space, mobility, and/or experience successfully grow their own vegetable plants. Participants this year were offered a variety of seedlings to choose from and a 15-gallon cloth container (with soil) in which to plant. They were given a Garden in a Box binder full of Cooperative Extension gardening publications, tips, a monthly calendar, and a journal. They are also offered initial planting advice and continuous support from volunteer Garden Coaches. Garden in a Box is a collaborative project of PRFC and University of Maine Cooperative Extension Piscataquis County, funded by the Quimby Family Foundation.


"We had a lot of fun with it!" said Abbott Memorial Library Director Liz Breault. "We would love to do it again next year. We have enjoyed it and it has been very popular!"


Librarian Jon Knepp smiles and holds a yellow cherry tomato up to the camera.
At a visit earlier in the summer, Thompson Free Library Director Jon Knepp showed off the demo garden's tomatoes. He said that the plant produced "untold legions of cherry tomatoes! Patrons picked them, we picked them, my kids picked them! One patron made bruschetta with the cherry tomatoes and then brought it in for us!"

"I loved how we were able to incorporate it in with our Seed Library and the books we received at the end of last year through a Rudman grant which related to sustainability and food production," said Thompson Free Library Director, Jon Knepp. "We had a lot of patrons comment that they took their gardening to the next level thanks to the books, seed library, Garden in a Box binders, and all of the resources Garden in a Box and the library provided. It really helped to increase engagement at a time where we were trying to promote outside, healthy activities, so it was a good synergy. That's a word I usually roll my eyes when others use, but in this case, it's true!"

"We had great fun with it and it created a lot of conversation about food and where our food comes from," said Shaw Public Library staff member Karen Leclair. However, the Garden in a Box at Shaw was just the tip of the vegetable-growing iceberg. Karen and her husband grew and gave away more than 700 pounds of veggies using a newly-installed community garden space in the library's back yard.


Several container gardens are packed into the PRFC Transit van, ready to be cleaned and stored away for the winter.
Time to go home, little gardens!

I am hoping to spend the winter planning bigger and better things to come for Garden in a Box, including increased collaboration with local libraries. What kind of gardening programs would you like to see at your local library? Send us a message or get on the list for Garden in a Box 2022 at https://www.prfoodcenter.org/2022-gbox-sign-up!

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