In the past two years, the Erie City Public Library has planted tomato seeds each spring that grew into bedding plants, which were then given to community members for their home gardens. We also provided onion sets, seed potatoes and garden seeds for families who may be experiencing issues with food insecurity to grow their own food. We began in 2018 with about 50 plants, that we passed out at the 1st Annual Seed and Plant swap, in the spring of 2019. It was a great success and so the next year, we got seeds and planted in the spring of 2020, an additional 200 tomato plants. Then in March of 2020, the Covid 19 virus hit and we were closed. The Staff at the library kept watering and caring for those plants. We decided to share our plants and seeds with our community so our school announced the packets on their daily morning announcements. Families came to get packets to grow their own gardens.
We started a program to share the bounty of our local gardeners. They would bring food in to share and we would announce the food on our Facebook page. We used our refrigerator in the community room to store these items. We reopened in May and started getting excess produce from our community friends. Local gardeners brought us fresh corn, tomatoes, green peppers, summer squash and later butternut and acorn squash.
When the CARES grant money was awarded to Neosho County and grant information was posted on their website, it was decided to expand our “We Share Program.” The Erie City Public Library applied for and was awarded a grant to purchase a Greenhouse for the library. We purchased a Yoderbilt Greenhouse,from Mansfield, Arkansas. Along with the greenhouse, there will be pots, soil, mats for starting plants, fertilizer, heat and lights. As we used the refrigerator to store produce, we asked for and awarded enough money to get a new one to use. The greenhouse was delivered in January 2021. In the spring, we planted 500 tomato plants that we shared with our community when it was time.