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Cicero LibraryFarm wraps up first growing season

As fall sets in, the Northern Onondaga Public Library at Cicero wraps up the pilot season of its newest feature: the LibraryFarm. The "farm," located in the field across from the library, 8686 Knowledge Lane, is an organic garden for local residents to work on and pick from as a community.

The concept of the LibraryFarm originated from a passage that Meg Backus, adult programming coordinator at NOPL, read in a book by David Ross. The passage inspired Backus to think about libraries as an "intersection between the economy and society." Five months after the initial public interest meeting on January 23, the one-half acre field was plowed for the first time by the North Syracuse Parks and Recreation on June 24. Work on tilling compost from the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency Amboy site into the soil began June 26 with the help of Chris Danbach of Veteran Lawn Care and Landscaping and his crew.

The field was then divided into two separate sections: the individual plots for personal use and the community plot for shared gardening responsibilities. Before the "farm," the land was vacant and the library had no plans for its use.

"The cost of checking out a plot for the season is the same as the cost of checking out a book or DVD," said Backus. "That is, there're no fee attached to the plot, but there is a responsibility, just like there is with the other kinds of library materials." Individual plots are maintained and harvested by that person, family or group only.

The shared plot is for those that would like to participate in the LibraryFarm, but can't commit to maintaining their own garden. In exchange for picking herbs and vegetables from the community garden, people water and pick weeds to help. Backus said there has even been discussion about donating some of the vegetables from the shared plot to local food pantries, which lack fresh foods.

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