Rumford library’s first container garden is a success story

Abby Austin, right, circulation supervisor at the Rumford Public Library, and Circulation Assistant Serena Theriault, second from right, share their gardening knowledge Thursday with Lisa and Robert Carrier and their grandchildren, Cohen and Charlotte Carrier, at the library. Austin and Theriault are the primary gardeners for the Plotted Plants Library Garden and say patrons are enjoying selecting veggies from a basket in the library. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — The Rumford Public Library’s first Plotted Plants Library Garden, aptly named by Circulation Assistant Serena Theriault, has provided lots of colorful veggies to share with the community this summer.

Theriault, an experienced gardener, shares the gardening duties with Circulation Supervisor Abby Austin, a novice gardener.

It’s a lot of work, they agreed, but very rewarding because the patrons enjoy it. Many of them are in the habit of checking the vegetable basket as soon as they enter the library doors at 56 Rumford Ave., Austin said.

“So, we’re kind of making it up as we go along,” Austin said.

“We’ll get there. We’re figuring out what will grow here and what won’t,” Theriault said.

On Thursday, grandparents Lisa and Robert Carrier brought their grandchildren, Cohen and Charlotte Carrier, to join two library staff in picking a few vegetables for the children to taste.

Cohen told the librarians their gardens at home include a large sunflower “taller than my dad,” and that he and his sister “help papa pick the crops.” Charlotte added that the grapes on a vine at home “keep falling off; they’re not good.”

The library garden consists of 10 large buckets and five raised beds, which so far this summer have produced string beans, sugar snap peas, green peppers, onions, jalapeno peppers, a golden orange pepper, tomatoes, yellow and purple beans, Theriault said.

They’ve also had an abundance of herbs, including basil, parsley, rosemary and oregano. They are expecting rainbow-colored veggies, such as carrots colored purple, white, orange and yellow.

Potatoes didn’t produce because they accidentally drowned them, Theriault said. Next time they will include drainage for them.

There are many advantages to having a container or raised bed garden, Austin said.

“(Some) people in the community don’t have land where they can grow and plant an entire garden,” she said. “We wanted to show that it’s possible to do it in a small space.”

Several of the vegetables, like the radishes, carrots, beets and peas, were started from seed while others were received as plants from the community, including some from Rumford Fire Chief Chris Reed and his wife, Stephanie, who donated jalapeno, basil and parsley plants, Austin said.

Money for the garden supplies also came from the Friends of Rumford Public library’s book sale and the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

This fall, children will help the staff harvest the crops and enjoy the bounty, Austin said.

“It might be dependent on what’s available: it might be a tomato day, it might be a cucumber day, or it might be a carrot day,” she said.

Rumford Public Library Circulation Assistant Serena Theriault, left, and Circulation Supervisor Abby Austin stand Thursday next to the Plotted Plants Library Garden on Rumford Avenue. The two women said patrons are enjoying selecting veggies from a basket in the library. Marianne Hutchinson/Rumford Falls Times

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