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STEAM Garden: Cambridge-On-The-Grow!


This summer as a part of the STEAM at the Library initiative, the Cambridge Public Library (CPL) partnered with our neighbor, the Cambridge Rindge & Latin School (CRLS), to grow a community garden on-site at the Main Library. Although there are several youth-run community gardens around the city, CRLS was the only public school that did not already have a garden in place.

Youth Librarians Maya Escobar (who originally proposed the idea of a CPL community garden) and Maggie French were assigned to oversee the gardening program. CRLS Biology and Earth Science teachers Tobe Stomberg and Barbara Dorritie informed the CPL that that there were students growing plants in the classroom and for after school clubs who were eager to extend the growing season into the summer. These students provided us with beautiful plants, which were installed in a movable raised bed brought over to the library by Jennifer Letourneau, from the Department of Public Works, who oversees community gardening projects throughout the city.

Over the course of the summer, the CPL garden was maintained by two Mayor Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP) workers. These workers proved invaluable and full of ideas! They performed seed library research and saved seeds produced by the garden. When an aphid infestation hit the garden, they also researched nontoxic ways to get rid of them, and saved the tomatoes! Throughout the season, the garden successfully produced green beans, hot peppers, tomatillos, cherry and heirloom tomatoes, basil, mint and more! These products were then donated to the local non-profit organization Food for Free. As of mid-September, the Library returned garden maintenance back over to CRLS students.

CPL staff hope to host this experience again next year and are excited by the idea of possibly expanding the garden’s size!