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Editorial: Library vegetable garden fights blight, feeds growing minds

6:46 PM, Jun. 11, 2013  |  Comments
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In less than two months, an idea to address the "eyesore" of an entrance of the Brown County Central Library has grown into a proposal and is now an approved plan with 70 percent of the funds raised for it.

The plan creates a children's vegetable garden on the library's Pine Street Plaza, which consists of the cement planters and benches outside of the main entrance.

Needing $35,000 for the project, the library has already received commitments for 70 percent of that funding, with generous donations from Cellcom ($15,000), Festival Foods ($5,000) and Prevea Health ($5,000).

These local companies are investing in their community and the children in their community. They are to be commended.

The library staff also deserves some kudos for coming up with a solution to a growing problem. Some library visitors may have felt intimidated by having to navigate through the people who tended to idle outside the library entrance. Others may have considered the dated architecture a blemish.

To find a solution that addresses both of those issues while educating children about their food supply and healthy lifestyles deserves support.

This plan seems to be an endorsement for keeping the library right where it's at. Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt endorsed the plan. He said the library building has been neglected, but "we think the library belongs here."

It would be another unique addition to a downtown in transformation. Restaurants and apartments have opened and businesses relocated to downtown Green Bay, and the garden adds another positive element to that.

Now the library hopes to do some of the site preparation this year and have the garden planted by this time next year.

It will include raised garden beds for vegetables, a compost bin, a birdhouse and birdbath as well as benches and flowers. It will be used as an interactive educational tool, showing children where their vegetables come from and how they're grown.

While those with gardens might scoff at the idea, remember that not every child learns about where the food on their plate comes from.

Lynn Stainbrook, director of the Brown County Library, said the garden will help the library fulfill its mission of reaching children.

"Educating children fits the library's mission," Stainbrook said. "Our vegetable garden fits the library's principles and activities, and sustainability and reclaiming space that is an eyesore in order to create a place to educate about these ideas, as one library staff member put it, it truly takes a lemon situation and creates lettuce."

Indeed. Repurposing the concrete space along the entrance to the library took some imagination and some support, both of which don't seem to be in short supply in the Green Bay area.

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