Library gardening: Community Permaculture Education

I garden in libraries – with children – with adults.

It’s an unusual place, and obviously a temporary activity, but for years I have been taking the sensory wonders of my permaculture garden into the midst of the library realm.  These gardening sessions are part of the Sustainable Living series run by Brisbane City Council and the community is invited to participate for free.
Some of the keen gardeners from last weekend’s gardening session at Annerley Library.

For those few hours, with the room full of my plants, the library smells amazing. That is the first thing everyone says when they come into the space. In the morning before the gardening sessions, just as the sun is rising, I go out into my dew-laden garden and gather armfuls of plants flourishing that week – herbs, perennial edibles, edible flowers, and bunches of unusual greens.

On many weekends you will find me at one of the 33 libraries run by Council with my buckets overflowing with the selection of incredible edible perennials and an abundance of seeds. I also take a sampling of interesting fruits, a collection of wriggly worms, bokashi sprinkles, a tub of compost, and a selection of reclaimed materials to use as pots.

I explore a range of themes around sustainable food gardening and permaculture in the city and through this aim to build ecoliteracy – understanding how nature works, so we can work with nature.

I must have shared out over 10,000 edible plant cuttings and many thousands of seeds too.  I suggest to participants that once the plants are established, they spread them further and gift the plant abundance again. People always leave my library gardening sessions with at least a few new plants, and I hope a lot of ideas of ways to simply create an edible garden at home or get involved in a local community garden.

It is wonderful now that few libraries in the large Brisbane City Council region are setting up their own community gardens outside. These are becoming important meeting, learning and play spaces – adding to the growing number of community gardens in Brisbane.

The Council lists 37 community gardens on their website, but I know there are very many more not included here, as well numerous school gardens. Community Gardens are great places for growing food and for growing community locally. Many years ago, I helped to set up the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens Network – for those interested, there is a wealth of information the website.

Last weekend – being in school holidays – I led a special children’s gardening session at Annerley. In the midst of the garden, the kids, their parents and I made mini-wicking gardens, seed balls and origami seed packets. 

There were lots of busy young hands sticking, gluing, propagating, potting up, mixing clay and compost, rolling seedballs, folding origami seed packets.
There were so many happy faces getting their hands in the earth. The seedball making was a particularly popular activity. The kids are so excited to go home and cast them out, or place them in a pot. Perhaps there may be a few guerrilla urban gardeners in the making….?