Kings Mountain Library grant makes garden accessible to all
On a grassy hill overlooking I-85 on one side and the H. Lawrence Patrick Senior Center on the other, metal container gardens teem with purple butterfly bushes, yellow and orange lantanas, and multicolored coleus.
The Kings Mountain Community Garden recently became accessible to everyone through a grant.
Christina Martin, manager of library services at Mauney Memorial Library, said the library received a $45,000 T-Mobile Hometown grant that paid for accessible admission for Americans with disabilities to the garden and a pavilion, which is still awaiting construction. A sidewalk leading to the garden and a concrete slab for the pavilion were poured last week, and they are waiting for the construction team to build the pavilion.
Martin said American Landscaping Structures of Pennsylvania is doing the work and he expects it to be complete by October.
The structure will have a roof similar in color to the senior center and a copper cupola.
“It will be pretty,” Martin said.
They have already purchased several raised metal beds and plan to add more.
“Everything is as accessible as possible to the ADA,” Martin said.
Container beds currently contain herbs including sage, oregano, and rosemary, as well as peppers. There are a few tomato plants and some flowers.
Most of the garden will be located down the slight hill and facing I-85.
They have about a dozen beds and plan to fill two more rows in the future.
“It’s going to be phased in gradually as we have the money,” Martin said.
Terry Bivens, adult services manager at Mauney Memorial, said the project grew out of the seed library they started three years ago.
“We bought seeds and repackaged them and started giving them out to anyone who wanted them,” Bivens said. Organic and heirloom seeds are free.
“We’ve had three very successful years,” she said. “The number of members has doubled in three years.”
Those interested in checking the seeds (nothing has to be returned) apply for a lifetime membership and can then take the seeds home and plant them.
They keep the library stocked seasonally.
“You can find something to grow year-round,” Bivens said.
The library buys the seeds from small companies that have high quality products that can germinate.
They wanted people to be successful in growing plants, so they deliberately chose those with a high success rate so that gardeners would be encouraged to keep growing their food.
One of the reasons they decided to start the program was the high poverty rate and food deserts in the area.
With rising grocery costs, it’s a perfect opportunity to grow fresh food for free and Martin said it’s a way to supplement groceries with healthy options.
Martin said they also work with the Cleveland County Master Gardeners who come to teach classes and provide valuable gardening education.
The library was deliberate in choosing heirloom seeds for the seed library.
“We teach them to fish for life,” Martin said. “They can use these seeds every year.”
Unlike hybrids, which often only germinate for one season, heirlooms return year after year. They also wanted to promote seed diversity.
Martin said she left big red tomatoes to rot last year and this spring eight plants sprouted seeds without her doing anything.
“Truly, you give the gift that keeps on giving when you give heirloom seeds,” she said.
Bivens said they currently have about 100 members. To become a member, people simply have to fill out a form that explains the program and why they do what they do.
“We are a giving library,” Martin said. “We give back to the community.”
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
Bivens said people love the program and she often gets phone calls from people wanting to know if any new seeds have arrived. They frequently replenish and prepare to release fall seeds.
They are grateful for the grant, which made the garden accessible to everyone, something that was important to them.
“We knew we needed the grant to make it what it could be,” Martin said.
They chose the location of the senior center because it was owned by the city, it was not used before, and it is a beneficial collaboration with the senior center with opportunities for older people to get involved.
The grant covered the pavilion and accessibility changes, and the rest of the funds for the garden come from the library’s adult programming.
They are currently looking for a core of volunteers who can work in the garden and keep it in production all year round.
“We had a number of people who expressed interest,” Bivens said. “There is support. There is a community desire for this.
If people would like to volunteer in the garden, they can call the Mauney Memorial Library at 704-739-2371 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebecca Sitzes can be reached at email@example.com