Arlington Public Library: The Urban Farmer’s Best Friend

We have long loved the Arlington Public Library for the diverse array of resources they offer, and now there are three great reasons for urban farmers like us to love the library even more:
 
Reason #1 for urban farmers to love the Arlington Library:  They lend garden tools! 
 
Did you know you can check out a wide range of gardening tools, just like you’d check out a book?  The program is called “The Shed,” and it offers tools to Arlington residents who don’t necessarily have the space or desire to own & store their own gardening equipment.
 

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The Shed, Arlington’s garden tool lending program, is based at the Central Library, and open March – November.

 
Seriously, who in Arlington has the space to store a wheelbarrow, seed spreader, or pitchforks?  Not many of us.  So now you can just head over to Central Library and check ’em out, use ’em, and return ’em.  At no cost.  How awesome is that?  Here’s a sample of what they lend — you can find the complete list of tools here:
 

  • Planting & Digging Tools:  shovels, hoes, cultivators, picks, pitchforks, etc.
  • Weeding & Cutting Tools:  saws, shears, loppers, weed cutters, pruners, etc.
  • Rakes & Cleaning Tools:  rakes, sidewalk scrapers, brooms, wheelbarrows, etc.
  • Watering Tools:  hoses, nozzles, etc.
  • Miscellaneous Tools:  extension cords, ladders, seed spreaders, etc.

Borrowing is available for Arlington residents over the age of 18.  Tools can be borrowed for seven days, with one renewal, and up to five tools can be borrowed at a time.  Complete rules for the program can be found here.  To get started with The Shed, stop by Central Library and sign up at the circulation desk.
 
Reason # 2 for urban farmers to love the Arlington Library:  Garden Talks & Plant Clinics. 
 
Do you know about the Expert Garden Talks offered every Wednesday evening at Central Library?  Well now you do.   The talks, which run from March through October, are led by volunteers and staff from AFAC’s (Arlington Food Assistance Center) Plot Against Hunger, and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners.   Topics range from how to start seeds indoors, to container gardening, to composting, and so much more.  The full calendar of 2015 Talks can be found here.  And on Thursday evenings from April – October, the Master Gardeners host a Plant Clinic, where you can get answers to all your gardening questions.  The Plant Clinic is on the first floor of Central Library, and the Garden Talks take place at 7pm outside at the Central Library Community Garden.  Which leads me to…
 
Reason #3 for urban farmers to love the Arlington Library:  Community Gardens.
 
You may have seen some of the wonderful community gardens around Arlington, and there are several at our libraries, too.  Central is home to the USDA’s People’s Garden (run by AFAC’s Plot Against Hunger), as well as the Berm Garden, the Pollinator Garden, and the 10th Street Americorps Garden.
 
central library garden

The Central Library community garden delivers its harvest to AFAC’s Plot Against Hunger.

 
The Glencarlyn branch is home to a teaching garden maintained by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.   The goal of the teaching garden is “to provide resources for Arlington residents to learn how to create gardens in both the suburban and urban landscape. The Garden consists of many smaller gardens including a herb, shade, sun, tropical, dry, container, and native gardens.”
 

glencarlyn

The Glencarlyn branch offers a community teaching garden, lovingly maintained by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia.

 
And at Westover, they use a series of raised beds and public workshops to teach the community about planting, sustainable gardening, composting, and other useful urban farming techniques.
 

Westover-Garden-2

The Westover branch has more than 16 raised beds, thanks to contributions from the local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Field to Table, Master Food Volunteers, and Master Gardeners.

 
Bonus:  Reason #4 for urban farmers to love the Arlington Library:  Books!
 
books

With so many fantastic resources available at the library, it’s easy to forget the very thing they’re most known for:  books!  There are tons of great guides, reference manuals, step-by-step how-to’s, magazines, and even movies about gardening and farming.  Here is a useful place to start, or just stop by any of the eight branches and ask the reference librarian to point you in the right direction.
 
So there you have it.  Who knew the library could be such a great resource for urban farmers?  (Well, we knew.  And now you know.  You’re welcome.)
 
Thank you, Arlington Public Library, for giving us so many reasons to love you!
 

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