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The Little Sprout Garden For Little Sprouts

By Estelle Foster

As part of the Reading Is So Delicious Summer Reading Program at the Palm Springs Public Library, several people have joined together to turn a patch of fallow soil outside of the story room into a children’s garden and place to learn how food grows.

The idea of the garden was planted at the time the Palm Springs Community Garden Project began, and finally sprouted this past spring in preparation for the 2013 Summer Reading Program.

Julie Warren, the Library Services and Public Relations Manager for the Palm Springs Public Library, presented the idea to the Palm Springs Sustainability Commission. With their support, Organic Horticulturist John Foster was approached to help bring the concept to life. Julie didn’t know it at the time, but the Reading Is So Delicious Program combined with garden education, would prove to be groundbreaking.

The Little Sprout Garden took seed on June 6th to the delight and amazement of the children—from toddlers to ten year olds. They planted seeds, watered plants and began the adventure to learn what it takes to cultivate food. Then, on Friday mornings, John Foster would help the children tend their Little Sprout Garden, as their knowledge continued to grow.

Every session allowed children the opportunity to water and weed their garden. Johnny enlivened their time together by introducing new fruits and veggies. A ripe watermelon placed next to a young watermelon vine, a full grown eggplant next to a sprouting eggplant and mature beets and carrots placed next to their respective young plants, provided an amazing visual. The children got it. Their delicious, colorful fruit and veggies don’t grow on the supermarket shelves; they grow in the rich soil of a garden. “Just keep chewing fast, and the sweet flavor will kick in,” said Johnny as he introduced organic kumquats to a grimaced-faced boy.

The Little Sprout Garden For Little Sprouts has been a momentous step to interactive learning at the library. It has been made possible through the combined efforts of: Julie Warren, John Foster, Nancy Valdivia—the Youth Librarian, Jeannie Kays—the Director of Library Services, Michele Mician—Manager of the Palm Springs Department of Sustainability, the Palm Springs Sustainability Commission, and the Palm Springs Mayor and City Council.