Montclair, N.J. – The Montclair Public Library values not only traditional learning, but also innovative, experiential education. While it doesn’t have a field to cultivate a large scale community garden, its sun-drenched front lawn will be the site of a 4x4 garden plot for tomatoes, herbs, and other edible plants this summer.
Developed in conjunction with food activists and volunteers, Melina Macall www.thefoodactivist.com and Eileen Sweeny, the garden will encourage neighborhood children and nearby residents to learn about the importance of green space, growing fresh vegetables and healthy eating. With public attention on the climbing obesity rates and soaring carbon emissions, Montclairites are taking a keener interest in the origins and nutritional content of their food as well as its impact on their health and the environment.
Through its collections, programming, and usage of space, the Montclair Public Library is participating in this lively conversation. For the last two years, MPL has participated in Food Day, a national day of action for healthy, affordable, sustainable food. This year, the library and Terra at the Isabel Rose Café held one of the first Fight Hunger the Healthy Way food drives to benefit the Human Needs Food Pantry, which received a matching grant from the Partners for Health Foundation. Terra serves organic and fair trade food and drink and is a Starbrite Farm Community Supported Agriculture pick-up site. Furthermore, the Montclair Office of Environmental Affairs offers a Green Film Series about food and the environment in the library auditorium in collaboration with Community Green.
“This garden will emphasize the importance of community involvement in its endurance and give everyone the opportunity to experience the joy of seeing plants grow from seed to fruition,” said Macall. “There is nothing so delicious as fresh, home grown food, this garden provides an introduction to Montclarites to literally enjoy the fruits of their labors.”
To further promote the importance of the themes discussed above, the Easy Gardening Guide developed by United Way of Northern New Jersey will be made freely available in the Terra Café and library. Additionally, library programming will be developed to improve gardening and healthy eating education for the community.
Volunteers interested in assisting with weeding and watering through November 2014 should contact Eileen Sweeny. For more information about this library, please visit www.montclairlibrary.org.