Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Great article in Birmingham News about Emmet O'Neal Library's Summer Reading program!

Mountain Brook library's garden grows, thanks to summer readers

Published: Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 9:50 AM
Libba Manley, 8, watches Billy Angell, owner of the Oak Street Garden Shop, harvest vegetables. (The Birmingham News / Tamika Moore)

Mountain Brook's Emmet O'Neal Library this year watched its summer reading program grow -- literally -- before the city's eyes.

Readers, from preschool to teenagers, participated in the library's inaugural garden, which took shape across the street from the library. The garden was a joint venture between the library and the Oak Street Garden Shop and coincided with the summer reading program.

Children's Librarian Carol Melton said 2,150 children signed up for the summer reading program. Though there is no tally for how many readers and would-be farmers participated in the garden, groups of children took part in helping water and cultivate the crops of squash, beans, tomatoes and zucchini.
"We had groups that worked on Tuesday and Saturday mornings before story time," Melton said. "The teens worked on Friday. We had some who loved going to work over there after chess club on Wednesdays."

Each summer, the library sponsors a reading program to encourage children to continue reading while out of school. Oak Street Garden Shop first proposed the idea of a garden for the library's young readers earlier this year, library officials said. The garden shop provided seeds, tools, some labor and instruction, and helped maintain the 1,000-foot plot of land.

A picket fence was also added to make the garden aesthetically pleasing to those passing through Crestline Village. Leftover produce is being donated to Magic City Harvest, a Birmingham nonprofit organization that distributes food to the needy.

"We've had so many positive comments from patrons," Melton said. "Anytime, you're liable to see someone out there browsing through it, even if they're just out walking in the neighborhood."
The garden shop will continue to maintain the garden through the fall. Melton said the library is looking into organizing a Halloween-themed event which might involve a pumpkin patch.
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