Last Friday, April 14, was one of the first days of 2017 that felt like a proper spring day; nice and cool in the morning, and perfect for gardening. At 9:30 on Friday, Jim O’Connor, Maker-in-Residence in Mullica hill, and several volunteers started work on the five raised beds for the new season of crops for the Garden@GCLS.
Before the library created the garden, with the help of a local Home Depot and the Gloucester County certified gardeners, they had a variety of classes on nutrition and sustainable living, as well as a class that focused on creating seed sculptures, taught by Jeff Quattrone (founder of the library seed bank).
“Being the type of person that likes to be able to do things from, you know, soup to nuts, I thought it would be really great if we would be able to grow our own food for these programs,” O’Connor explains.
So, in the spring of 2015, the Garden@GCLS was founded to help teach these classes as well as help the indigenous pollinators of the region, which is a very serious issue.
In an article published in PLOS Pathogens, the authors state that, “Since 2006, US honey bee colony losses have averaged 33% annually (increased from ~12% historic level).” This same article points out that one out of three foods that we eat in the western world require bee pollination.
This problem prompted President Barrack Obama to issue a presidential memorandum to create the Pollinator Health Task Force in 2014. Part of this Memorandum included a plan to have public buildings, “incorporate, as appropriate, pollinator-friendly practices into site landscape performance requirements to create and maintain high quality habitats for pollinators.”
This is something the Garden@GCLS is excelling at because one of its five raised beds is specifically a pollinator bed that is growing indigenous pollinator plants, like Swamp Milkweed. O’Connor sees the Garden as a win-win-win.
“Our goal is to engage the community and to teach them and be a community space. We’re also helping the environment at the same time, and its miniscule, but I look at it as ripples,” O’Connor explains. “So, one of these kids, out of 40 pole bean plants we have, if one or two of them end out being a farmer or having a garden they maintain, we made a difference.”
Check out these awesome videos for more information on Bees and what their decline means for us: