SNOW HILL — The arrival of spring 2013 finds volunteer gardeners preparing the Berlin Branch Library garden for the coming growing season, thanks in part to a few grants recently awarded to it.
A highly competitive grant of $500 along with $50 worth of seeds from Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI) was recently announced, in addition to a grant of $550 from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore.
“The library garden project was one of 80 gardens selected from 925 applicant gardens worldwide for a Sow it Forward grant from KGI,” said Katherine Munson, Natural Resources Planner for Worcester County who spearheads the garden project. “In addition to the grant, KGI will donate a book for the library’s collection and a subscription to an online garden planning tool. The mission of KGI, which mirrors our own, is to empower individuals, families and communities to achieve greater levels of food self-reliance through the promotion of kitchen gardening, home-cooking, and sustainable local food systems.”
The grant funds will be used to build additional raised bed systems, purchase soil and gardening equipment for volunteers to use at the site, and miscellaneous gardening materials.
New to the garden in 2013 is an asparagus bed, prepared last fall. Rich in folate, Vitamin C and potassium and other vitamins and nutrients, asparagus is well-suited for cultivation on the Eastern Shore. Asparagus beds produce repeatedly for years. The fern-like leaves serve as an ornamental part of the garden after spring production ends. Also planned for this season are tomatoes, sweet peppers, carrots, beets, greens, herbs, garlic, onions, raspberries, potatoes, bush and pole beans, eggplant, cucumbers and cabbage. Towering sunflowers will again grace the garden in mid-summer.
Since 2010, hundreds of people have benefited from over 1,500 pounds of organic produce grown in and donated from the garden to community food assistance programs, including Diakonia, Inc. The garden is now a model for sustainable community gardening projects.
Several groups looking to start gardening projects elsewhere on the shore have visited and consulted with the Master Gardener volunteers as a first step to beginning their own project. Likewise, dozens of children and adults have volunteered or participated in educational programming provided by the library project.