The boardroom of the Grand County Public Library isn’t only hosting board meetings anymore: it’s also the location of a new hydroponic garden. “I’m excited to go in there and steal some spinach to make lunch,” said Carrie Valdes, the library director.
The garden was created via a partnership between the library, BEACON Afterschool and the Youth Garden Project, funded by an American Rescue Plan Act grant through the Utah State Library Division of the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, which is funding multiple hydroponic gardens throughout the state to help kids learn about growing food.
“I’m super excited by it,” Valdes said. “It’s not a traditional library role, but these last couple of years really taught us that traditional library roles don’t necessarily serve the community to the fullest extent possible. We’re trying to look at not being a book warehouse because nobody wants that anymore.” The partnership with YGP to create the hydroponic garden “came naturally” Valdes said: YGP’s mission is to grow kids, food and community through educational outreach.
The hydroponic garden is currently set up for a Kindergarten through fifth grade curriculum with six levels of systems for kids of different ages. The main system, for the older students, is a three-tiered shelf with bright pink grow-lights that can hold 200 pounds of vegetables. “There’s lots of space to grow,” said Erin Vick, the youth programs director at YGP. The other systems include a garden inside a plastic tub, a garden inside what looks similar to a mini-greenhouse, and even a garden inside individual containers the size of a yogurt cup.
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