We live in an extraordinary place. People are drawn here for the natural beauty, friendly locals, and quality of life. From the top of Schweitzer Mountain to the middle of Lake Pend Oreille, we have a breath-taking 360 degree view.

Because I have lived here since childhood, I often ask newcomers and visitors what drew them to Sandpoint. Almost invariably, the answer is that they can experience all four seasons here. Recreational opportunities abound in this natural diversity, putting everyone on an equal playing field regardless of material means.

Our community library system operates on those same values. The physical spaces inside our branch libraries in Clark Fork and Sandpoint are bright and inviting. Staff and community members are friendly and helpful. Library services and materials can positively impact our quality of life. The opportunities for discovery, connection, and lifelong learning put everyone on an equal playing field.

One example of this is the new library garden. Located on the Cedar Street parcel of the Sandpoint Library property (where the Quonset hut currently stands), this feature will add a new dimension to the quality of life our community offers.

The garden will serve as an outdoor learning venue with visible activities that tie the library and community together. A steering committee made up of community leaders with gardening, accounting, landscape design, art, and other expertise has developed a strategic plan for the next five years. Start-up funds have been secured for the initial phase including the installation of a temporary fence, raised beds, and plants. Idaho Forest Group, Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society, National Association of Realtors, Panhandle Health District, and WIC have contributed funds or in-kind donations.

This community garden will involve more than food production. The focus will be on education, growing native plants, and art. People of all ages will be able to mentor and learn about science, technology, literacy, food production, nutrition, and art.

Storytime garden

It will have raised garden beds with native flowering plants, shrubs, and vegetables which will be shared with our community. The goal is to send the food home with those who participate in garden programs to connect gardening with nutrition. The garden will have an aesthetic theme including art that aligns with The Library and its mission. The long range plan includes four-season functionality with a shelter and greenhouse.

The garden will create a platform for addressing local issues including hunger, depression, obesity and childhood health. It will foster intergenerational connection, sustainable living, and volunteerism. And the garden needs volunteers. Join us for an hour or more on one of our scheduled work days or talk to Mike Bauer about other ways to participate in this great initiative for our community.

Like The Library itself, this new garden will appeal to all members of our local community in different ways. I encourage you to find out more about this most recent transformation that your local library is undergoing. It is just one more reason why Bonner County is such an extraordinary place to live.

For details or to learn how you can participate, contact Mike Bauer, The Library's Lifelong Learning Coordinator at (208) 265-2665 or mike@ebonnerlibrary.org.

Marcy Timblin, Public Relations

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