Recently I organized a library field trip. Patrons met in the lobby, and then we walked (or rolled, in the case of those who had cushy stroller transportation) just under half a mile to a local fire station, where they have a wonderful vegetable garden, and even some fruit trees. The Firefighter/Gardener told us how and why he started his garden, and then gave us a tour of what he was growing, explaining his processes.
It’s a really cool story actually. The firefighter grew up gardening in Napa County, and so it was kind of natural for him to put in a small garden at his previous fire station, just taking advantage of a weedy side area. His garden was so well received, by the neighbors as well as the city, that when the city built a brand new fire station, they deliberately included space for a garden. The firefighters enjoy fresh vegetables with their staff meals, and the neighbors even get a share in the bounty. It builds community and strengthens the connection to our food. Several articles have been published about it, and the local news team visited.
The field trip was awesome! Despite a bit of a disorganized start (mostly due to me trying to manage too many things at once), it was a beautiful day and a nice walk. It was such a treat to be able to do some easy exercise with my patrons, to enjoy the neighborhood, and to discuss what people were growing. The firefighter was charming, funny, and super nice. One patron said, “I used to have a garden but it got really buggy so I got rid of it. But this is really inspirational, I think I will try again.” We even got some press – an article was published in a local paper a few days before, and a photographer for another local paper joined us on our visit.
There was a little crimp for me the librarian though. Both newspaper articles are about the garden, rather than the library field trip, although the first one did mention our visit as upcoming. I’m very happy to see the garden in the news (again). But what about the library? It reminds me that I’ve got library-vision. One of the reasons I was so excited about the program is because it is something I’ve never done before. I felt revolutionary: We’re leaving the library! We created a program that people of all ages could enjoy! We’re supporting lifelong learning in a new way! We’re working with other city departments!
But really, the cool part of the program was the fire station garden, and the firefighter.
Here’s the next challenge I’m working on. Make a cool program that does all those things, and have people see and talk about why it’s cool that the library is doing them.