by Maya Sekhon
A new trend has sprouted in communities all across the Emerald Coast, bringing people of all walks of life together with their shared love of plants. Whether you’re new to gardening, a longtime plant enthusiast or just want to grow your collection, plant libraries can help facilitate a love for gardening and the community.
Plant swap groups have existed through social media platforms such as Facebook for years, although the plant libraries are a relatively new development. Angela Blake, the founder of Emerald Coast Plant Libraries, was inspired when she learned about a plant library located in Tallahassee. Blake decided that she should introduce the idea to local plant groups in her area, and the idea quickly caught on. Today, there are approximately thirty libraries all the way from Fort Walton to Pensacola. There are many people eager to host their own plant libraries, and the community is continuously growing.
Plant libraries are an exciting way for the community to come together and facilitate their common love for plants. People can propagate plants they already own and trade them for others they may not already have. While devoted plant enthusiasts can scour the libraries for that one rare plant they’ve always wanted, other visitors can come and enjoy the experience of getting involved and giving back to the community. Having a plant flourish under your care is an exciting and therapeutic experience that anyone can take part in. Blake is passionate about gardening and wanted to share her passion and its benefits pertaining to mental health, community interactions and more.
The concept is simple. Take a plant, leave a plant. Libraries are open to any visitors, as long as they follow the rule. Participants bring plants that they have propagated, and in turn they can pick any plant from the library. Some hosts were initially concerned about the system, but their doubts quickly vanished when they realized that most people were taking one plant and leaving multiple.Blake recommends bringing plants that are non-invasive and easy to take care of. Hosts would like visitors to only leave plants that have already taken root to make sure it survives in the library. According to one library owner, Jacquelyn Sternung, “anything is fair game.”
Blake recommends bringing plants that are non-invasive and easy to take care of. Hosts would like visitors to only leave plants that have already taken root to make sure it survives in the library. According to one library owner, Jacquelyn Sternung, “anything is fair game.”
Sternung began her library about a month ago after seeing the Emerald Coast Plant Libraries page on Facebook and instantly fell in love. “I loved the idea of a space where my neighbors and the community could share something positive,” she explained. Sternung is always excited to check her library when she gets home from work. It makes her happy to see new plants and know that someone has stopped by and found a plant they want. Owning a plant library has brought back her passion and excitement for gardening, and she hopes that it will make a difference in someone’s day whether it’s finding a unique plant or by just walking by and seeing something positive.
If you are interested in becoming a host, Blake asks that you reach out to her to let her know why you want to start a library, give her some background information about your plant care experience and send her a picture of the area you want to use. She encourages people to contact her with any questions about starting their own plant library communities in other areas. CLICK HERE to read the story in our digital issue of Downtown Crowd.