CICERO — The Northern Onondaga Public Library’s Library Farm, located outside the Cicero Branch, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
When the Library Farm first started in 2011, a library having a community garden was a radical idea. Staff member Meg Backus, then Cicero’s Adult Programming and PR Coordinator, was inspired by a quote from Marcus Tullius Cicero that read, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”
And so the process began: surveying the land, finding forms of funding, and evaluating the workload and service the library could provide. When the Library Farm first started, it was an open field offering 28 garden spaces in front of the library. It may have been small, but it caught worldwide attention and helped cultivate an expansion of community gardens around the globe.
As the demand to grow became more apparent in the following years, new staff members were hired, and then Cicero Branch Manager Jill Youngs took the lead. As the farm grew in size, a local Boy Scout troop and other volunteer organizations help build pantry beds, plots designated for growing crops for local food pantries, and raised beds for gardeners.
Within the next few years, the library started to offer more unconventional programs like raising chickens, building a hoop house, and living green. And for a short time, the Library Farm hosted a farmers market on the grounds of the Cicero Library. A community of gardeners and kids alike began to gather, and the farm attracted new members. NOPL established a children’s summer program that taught unique classes such as outdoor survival, cultivating compost worms, and guerrilla gardening with seed bombs.
Today, Sue Buswell is the manager of the Library Farm. Sue started as one of the original gardeners 10 years ago and helped maintain the pantry beds on the Library Farm. The pantry beds have allowed the Library Farm to donate on average 200 pounds of fresh produce each year, and last year, it was over 250 pounds. Sue now runs the Library Farm, tending to the grounds, planning programming and funding, and making connections locally and worldwide.
This Saturday, the Cicero Library will be celebrating 10 years of service with an open house. Community organizations, individuals, and local businesses who have helped grow the Library Farm will be in attendance to share their stories. A special presentation will be made at 11 a.m. to recognize those who have contributed to helping grow the Library Farm since its fruition.
And to celebrate its anniversary, the Library is hatching a new concept, chickens. Currently housed in an incubator inside the library are eggs due to hatch around the time of the open house. We invite everyone to visit the Library Farm and welcome our new chicks during the open house from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 19.
To learn more about the event and the Library Farm, visit nopl.org/libraryfarm.