Community gardens planned for Sevier County libraries

Jun. 03, 2013 @ 11:10 PM

Sevier County Public Library System, in partnership with Keep Sevier Beautiful, has been awarded a $5,000 grant through Lowe’s Charitable Educational Foundation. The money will be used for the development of community gardens at King Family Library and the Seymour Library.

The Lowes/Keep America Beautiful Community Improvement Grant is part of a national effort to support community improvement projects that offer educational opportunities and community involvement.

“This project is intended to be a source of community connectivity, educational opportunities, and fun for all ages,” said Rhonda Tippett, system director for Sevier County Public Library. “It will be an advocacy tool for the library to reach more citizens to become library users and take advantage of the myriad of resources that are available to them every day.”  

The community garden will also serve as a resource for residents who might lack the land or opportunity to garden otherwise. For every hour that is worked, each volunteer will receive a small basket of what vegetables are available. Fresh produce will also be given to the Sevier County Food Ministry.

The garden is much more than a philanthropic effort, however. “We want an educational component to go alongside the garden project,” Tippitt said. “Our summer reading program is going to focus on dirt, so the children will also be introduced to the community garden and have a chance to enjoy it for the first season.”

The learning experience won’t be just through the books. “We’ve ordered a lot of experimental things, vegetables that are strange in color or shape for the kids to see,” Tippitt added.

“The community aspect is important, but our future gardeners, nutritionists, and geneticists will come from these kids,” agreed Materials Coordinator Liz Ballard.

The educational will extend to the entire community, as the garden will offer a platform for master gardeners and members of the community to conduct classes and share information.

“I like to learn new things every year,” said Ballard. “I’m always learning. With gardening, you can never learn everything.”

The first community work day is scheduled for Wednesday, June 19, at 9 a.m. Anyone interested in assisting with the project is encouraged to attend.

The library is currently seeking volunteers, as well as community members with gardening expertise who would be willing to conduct classes on gardening topics. For more information about the community garden, contact Rhonda Tippitt or Liz Chambers by calling King Family Library at 865-453-3532.

jfrye@themountainpress.com