What started two years ago as an effort to brighten a few corners around the Xenia Community Library has turned into a local project with global ties. With several small pocket gardens and features beside the building and walkways these spaces caught the eye of Greene County Public Library Executive Director Karl Colón and gave him the idea to introduce more native plants and flowers to the grounds.
“Walking by these spaces on my way to the office day in and day out it seemed like an opportunity to add something more,” Colón said. “As I often do, I turned to my staff and was given an amazing plan from Master Gardener Terese DeSimio, who at the time was working at our Yellow Springs Community Library.”
Bee the change you want to see
DeSimio, who has since relocated to New Mexico, surveyed the spaces and curated what native plants would not only add to the natural beauty – but also help as pollinator gardens for strengthening the urban environment that surrounds the library. From there, Greene County Public Library’s Operations Manager Ted Doggett was tasked with purchasing and planting the new gardens.
“We handled the heavier landscaping and laying out the mulch but when it came to planting it felt like the sort of project where we could work with the community,” Doggett said. “So, I sent out emails to local organizations for volunteers and the Girls Scouts were quick to respond by connecting us with local troop leaders.”
The Great Sunflower Project
Comprised of local Xenia Girl Scout Troops 30270, 32386 and 32782, the library’s call for volunteers was a perfect match for the local scouts’ Citizen Scientist work and the organization’s larger partnership with The Great Sunflower Project.
“The Great Sunflower Project is a fun initiative because it engages with all sorts of people at all different ages,” local Girl Scout Leader, Marie Atwood said. “Our local Girl Scouts are participating in the same work as all of the other volunteers and everyone’s efforts matter.”
One of the largest ongoing citizen scientist initiatives, The Great Sunflower Project works to track pollinator populations and create sustaining gardens of native plants. Locally, the council for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio had developed a relationship which is how Doggett’s email found its way to local Troop Leaders.
“Knowing our girls, when we were looking at options for community projects this spring we knew that this was something they would be excited for,” Atwood said.
Planting for the Future
On Tuesday, May 18, the three local troops came together to meet in the back parking lot of the Xenia Community Library. Working with Doggett, the girls received the native plants and rolled up their sleeves to get their hands dirty helping the environment and community.
“It’s cool to be able to do this at the library,” scout Faelynn said. “I help my mom in the garden too but when it’s at the library I get to point it out to my friends and be like, ‘that’s what I did, I helped to make that happen’.”
“I garden with my grandpa so this sort of thing is not completely new to me,” added scout, Regan. “He also was the one who would take me to the library, so this has been a fun project to work on.”
“It’s also just fun getting your shoes muddy,” Kamara added before they all got back to work.
“Coming together so well it almost seems as if this was deliberately planned out,” Colón said. “But really this is just another example of our staff and the people of Greene County coming together to create something meaningful from the good work they were already doing.”
With three areas planted around the side and front entrances, the local troops will continue to upkeep the pollinator gardens through the fall, providing pleasant strolls, buzzing bees, and plenty of chances for them to stay muddy.