‘My dream is to own an acre or two of land in a rural area and tend to a small herd of goats.’
“I started working as a librarian in 2004. I was inspired by my best friend, Mary Robinson, who has worked in libraries since we were teenagers. I grew up in Freeport, but both of my parents came from the South. My mother had a backyard garden, and I enjoyed the food from it, but I didn’t consider gardening until I purchased my own home in 2011.
“I got really serious about planting and canning during the pandemic in 2020. Around the same time, I decided to start a gardening program for local youths through the library. I work at Uniondale Public Library, but we are next door to East Meadow, where the Cornell Cooperative Extension Farm is located. The Uniondale library partnered with them and the Uniondale School District to create the Junior Master Gardening Program in 2019. Kids from Uniondale were bused to East Meadow to learn about gardening, and everyone who completed the program received a certificate from Cornell University. After that, we purchased two gardening beds and placed them on-site at the library. We use one gardening bed for teens and the other for children. We have planted everything from loofahs to okra to corn to Jamaican sorrel (Roselle hibiscus) to sunflowers. The community loves it!
Gardens beautify neighborhoods and attract birds and insects like butterflies and bees that are important to the ecosystem.
“One older gentleman told us that our gardens remind him of the ‘victory gardens’ that were prevalent in Uniondale during World War II. The gardens also give people the opportunity to learn about different foods. We have big Hispanic, Caribbean, and African American populations in Uniondale, so we frequently plant crops that are familiar to those cultures. We then share traditional recipes that use those specific ingredients. Gardens can also be tended to year-round, even in the winter. Garlic and onions grow over the colder months and get harvested in the spring, and collard greens actually taste better after a first frost!
“Currently, we have a Seed Library program in effect where anyone who has a Uniondale library card can take home four packets of seeds free of charge per visit and start growing their own gardens. It’s been very successful; patrons constantly send us photos of their home gardens! We really want to educate people about the benefits of gardening, which allows you to grow healthy food, save money and nurture the environment. After all, gardens beautify neighborhoods and attract birds and insects like butterflies and bees that are important to the ecosystem.”
Interviewed by Meagan Meehan