The St. Louis Metro Police Dept. Joins Forces with Gateway Greening and SPACE Architecture + Design to bring “Little Free Libraries” to Low Access Areas in St. Louis City

(ST. LOUIS, MO., August 26, 2015)… A unique partnership between St. Louis designers, police officers and gardeners from Gateway Greening is helping to provide free books to those who may not have access to a library, as part of the international “Little Free Library” movement.

Created in Wisconsin in 2009, the Little Free Library initiative was developed with the goal of promoting literacy and the love of reading through the building of free book exchanges worldwide. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books placed within a neighborhood. Community residents are encouraged to pick up books from the box to enjoy, and bring back books to share with others. Across the globe, there are currently 25,000 registered Little Free Libraries, with thousands more under creation.

Over the next few months, new Little Free Libraries will be popping up across the St. Louis area at Gateway Greening supported community and school gardens thanks to a collaboration between Gateway Greening, the St. Louis Metro Police Department and local architecture firm, SPACE Architecture + Design.

Earlier this year, SPACE Architecture + Design, hosted a “Little Free Library” design competition, which invited St. Louis designers to create innovative designs for Little Free Library book boxes and turn their ideas into actual display boxes. Numerous box designs were created and built as result of the competition, and will be placed at Gateway Greening gardens in locations where residents have limited access to books.

“The Little Free Libraries Project brings together aspects of growing community, building relationships, and spreading the love of reading,” said Mara Higdon, Assistant Director at Gateway Greening. “Gateway Greening is thrilled to be a part of this project highlighting the community development happening in and around Gateway Greening’s community garden projects throughout the City of St. Louis,”.

To help keep the libraries full, members of the St. Louis Metro Police Department will visit and restock them regularly, and use the visits as opportunities to engage with community members.

“The Little Free Libraries Project is a great opportunity for kids to make their first encounter with a police officer a positive and rewarding experience,” said St. louis Police Commissioner Sam Dotson. “We are extremely excited about partnering with Gateway Greening and local architects to provide books for our community’s most valuable assets, children. This project will enable us to work towards our goal of building stronger community partnerships.”

To learn more about the Little Free Libraries coming to St. Louis City, or for more information on Gateway Greening and its programs, visit www.gatewaygreening.org or call 314-588-9600.

ABOUT THE ST. LOUIS METRO POLICE DEPARTMENT

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has been protecting, serving and assisting St. Louis citizens since 1808. The department is the second largest law enforcement agency in the state of Missouri. There are more than 1300 sworn officers who are responsible for the public safety of 318,000 residents who live in the City of St. Louis and thousands who visit the city every year.

ABOUT GATEWAY GREENING

Gateway Greening is a non-profit organization that educates and empowers people to strengthen their communities through gardening and urban agriculture. Gateway Greening has been working to provide creative, grassroots solutions to urban problems since 1984. Programs include supporting more than 200 community and youth-focused gardens across the St. Louis area through educational opportunities, garden supplies and technical assistance; urban beautification projects that enhance the St. Louis urban landscape; and the City Seeds Urban Farm, a 2.5 acre farm in downtown St. Louis that provides therapeutic horticulture and a jobs training program.

ABOUT SPACE ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN

An award-winning design-build firm in St. Louis, Missouri, SPACE was launched in 2005 by St. Louis native Tom Niemeier. SPACE’s collaborative team of talented architects and designers give clients inspiring environments to enhance the most important moments of life. As proud residents of St. Louis’ Grove neighborhood, SPACE encourages its employees to give back to the area through pro bono work and community involvement. SPACE’s community participation was recognized by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, who awarded them the Spirit of St. Louis Award in 2010. For more information, visit www.spacestl.com, get up-to-the-minute news on Twitter at @spacearchitects, and on their blog at spacestl.wordpress.com.

 

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Locations of the Little Free Libraries are:

 

SouthamptonSouth Hampton4915 Macklind Ave63109
Connect Tower Grove South (TGS) Community GardenTower Grove South4259 Connecticut63116
South City Family YMCA Community GardenSouthwest Garden3150 Sublette63139
Clinton Peabody Community GardenPeabody, Darst, Webbe1401 LaSalle63104
Temple GardensBenton Park West2740 Arsenal63118
Fall and North Market Community GardenJeffVanderLou2411 Fall Ave.63113
Historic Miss Tillie’s Corner Community GardenJeffVanderLou1353 N. Garrision63106
Ville Family Gardens/GardenvilleThe Greater Ville4310 Maffitt Street63113
Cote BrillianteThe Greater Ville4588 Cottage Avenue63113
Maple Community GardenWest End5928 Maple Ave63112
Clarence CloversO’Fallon4528 Clarence Ave.63115

Peppers Maybe Hot

I couldn’t care less about the school garden.

That’s what I would have told you when Brian and I first toured Mallinckrodt, in the fall of 2011, looking for a school for our son, Milo. You’ve maybe seen that Facebook meme, “I’m outdoorsy in the sense that I like drinking wine on patios”? That’s me. I reluctantly keep alive a few houseplants, and every spring I really, really mean to keep some basil and cilantro and mint going through the summer in containers on my porch, but it just never quite works out. Death comes early to the neglected herb “garden.”

So when we were shown what was then just a shadow of the glorious oasis we see outside our school these days, I think it’s fair to say both of us went, “Meh.”

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Here’s what we didn’t notice then: it’s not about the garden. What’s growing out there is a community — not just our kids and teachers, but the little siblings who like to play out there before pickup, the families who volunteer to water over the summer (and take home some mint for summertime Mallinckrodt Mojitos!), the neighbors who are free to come and harvest what they wish, the congregants at Gethsemane Lutheran who host (and shop) our weekly farmers’ market at their church. Our garden, now expanded and lush, accented with inviting seats and shade and a beautiful fence and trellis, provides a landmark along Hampton and gives us an identity beyond “it’s the school just north of Target.”

And also: it’s totally about the garden. The enthusiasm and joy with which almost all of the teachers have embraced the garden as an outdoor learning space, as a place where it’s so much more interesting to learn math and environmental science than sitting at a table, have grown at remarkable speed. From Spanish to regular old second grade, teachers have risen to the occasion and developed curricula specifically because our garden is there. When Punita and other Gateway Greening folks are leading our kids through a very Socratic approach to learning about food (and through food, about sustainability and justice and consumption and free markets and equity and our fractured city and so much more), they are soaking it in while they chomp on veggies some of them wouldn’t otherwise touch with a ten-foot pole. They’re examining the migrating monarchs (thanks, milkweed!) and the creepy-crawlies (thanks, healthy soil!) and the paver stones (thanks, painting coordinator volunteers).

We visit the garden often these days, just to check what’s growing, to read the signatures of fellow class gardeners and the sometimes-funny signage in the beds. We grab a few handfuls of basil or a cucumber to go with dinner. We try to keep our second kid from eating too much mulch. (How much is too much, I wonder?) And when I give school tours, or talk to anyone about our school, I make sure to point out the garden.

-Amanda Doyle, Mallinckrodt Parent

 

 

Gateway Greening Garden Class Volunteer: Information & Guidelines

Gateway Greening Garden Class Volunteer

Information & Guidelines

Garden Class Program

What is Gateway Greening’s Garden Class?

Garden Class is an effort started in 2013 by Gateway Greening and SLPS to get students learning outdoors for an hour every week. Each participating school gets a dedicated Gateway Greening educator, who teaches garden-based science and other subjects. Classes have set times every week for the whole year—for example, 2nd grade comes out to the garden every Wednesday at 2pm.

What are the benefits of Garden Class for students?

  • Hands-on instruction in core curriculum helps students to better retain classroom teaching
  • Increases student willingness to try fresh vegetables & fruits
  • Gives students a sense of responsibility and care over other living things
  • Cultivates students’ social and emotional skills, through sharing tools, cooperating on tasks, taking turns, and learning to express disagreement respectfully
  • Introduces students to the joy of growing and eating healthy food!

How do we utilize volunteers?

Volunteers are critical to the success of our Garden Class programming. They help to provide the individual and small-group learning opportunities that appear in the garden, and assist with classroom management. They also bring their own unique skills—if a volunteer is an artist, a musician, or knows a lot about birds, for example, we love working to incorporate those strengths into our garden classes.

  • We prefer that volunteers commit to consistently volunteering with the same classes for at least an entire season (Fall or Spring). For example, you could volunteer with 2nd grade at 2pm every Wednesday from August-October. Some volunteers choose to assist the Gateway Greening educator for an entire teaching day every week—from about 10am to 3pm. However, we are flexible.
  • To get more information on class schedules, and to set up a time to volunteer, contact us!
    • Carolyn Cosgrove Payne – (763) 227-1450 (Clay Elementary)
    • Punita Patel – (314) 560-8823 (Mallinckrodt & Cote Brilliante Elementary)
  • If you are unable to make it, please make sure to call and cancel
  • If you ‘no-call, no-show’ 2 times, you will no longer be eligible to volunteer with school gardens.

Ready to get started? Attend the youth volunteer orientation on November 11th from 12pm-1:30pm at Gateway Greening’s Main office. 2211 Washington Avenue, 63103.

What Makes a School Garden Successful?

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Why are school gardens good? One can wake up everyday with a new reason for why they are an invaluable school and community resource. Even then, through the summer, most school garden go fallow. Do you wonder what you could do for your school garden?

Mallinckrodt School Garden is a good place to turn to see what works and how they do it. The last four years, parents have used Signup Genius to divide up the work of weeding, watering and other garden maintenance issues. Parents are encouraged to come and harvest the produce even if they are not helping with garden maintenance. Last year they had a free yoga class in the evenings for school families and also invited people from the community. This year they have a Farmers’ Market that students set up across the street at Gathesemane Lutheran Church on Sunday mornings. Students who are able to participate learn how to make change, how to set prices, if and when to lower the prices and how to make the customer’s experience meaningful. The money they raise goes to buying the garden journals that a few teachers are using as a tool for outdoor education.

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Mallinckrodt School has also developed partnerships with area universities to use the garden as a platform for student teaching and learning. Fontbonne University’s dieteticts students help with the farmers market during the summer and bring nutritional classes to the students during school year. SLU biology students come with Dr. Gerardo Camillo to study native bees in the garden. This team’s excitement and enthusiasm around bees rubs off like pollen on to the school community. Students and teachers always end up learning the most fascinating things about the bees from them. Gateway Greening is another community partner of the school garden. We focus on doing year round education around the garden and work with teachers to provide needed support. Dig It crew – High school Youth Employment Program of Gateway Greening- helped with a lot of weeding and maintenance to keep the garden looking great this summer.
IMG_7999 IMG_8721 IMG_8728 IMG_8767Key to Mallinckrodt Garden’s success is the fact that people have many reasons to come to the garden for a meaningful experience. What can you add to your garden to make it a meaningful place?