Ballantyne Magazine covers news, events, real estate, restaurants, shopping, health, schools and business in the upscale Ballantyne Area of Charlotte, NC.
Issue link: http://ballantynemagazine.epubxp.com/i/683727
Planting a Love of Mother Nature Interactive Learning Space and Community Garden Now Open at Library By Nan Bauroth | Photos by Ray Sepesy THANKS TO THE GENEROSITY OF THE BISSELL COMPANIES, children in the Ballantyne area can now get hands-on experience in growing plants and food sources at the new Interactive Learning Space and Community Garden at South County Regional Library. With Bissell's gift of more than $36,000, the local branch library closest to Ballantyne Corporate Park has transformed its underused patio into a place where children and adults alike can enjoy the wonders of Mother Nature. Honoring Tenants The ribbon-cutting on the new garden took place in late March. "To honor our tenants and customers in Ballantyne Corporate Park during the last holiday season, we were happy to contribute to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Foundation for the creation of an experimental and enriching space to be enjoyed for years to come," says Smoky Bissell, chairman of Bissell. "Investing in our youth and advancing the community in which we work are valued priorities for Bissell." The renovated patio featuring vegetable and butterfy gardens, planting tables and watering trays is designed to serve as a learning lab for children and families by teaching about plants, gardening, environmental sustainability, benefcial insects and related topics. In addition, the new space has a gazebo with seating and portable work benches. The concept was the dream of Sandy Nichols, children's library specialist at the site. "I have a love of gardening passed on by my grandmother, so I have been conducting garden programs here for the children, many of whom have never grown anything," she explains. As part of her goal setting, she came up with the notion of turning the patio space that was seldom used by patrons into a garden learning center. "At that time we didn't have the money to accomplish it, but Bissell wanted to contribute to the library and they chose the garden project." Inspiring Children Now that the garden is complete, Nichols is hopeful it will inspire children to become excited about gardening and continue in the programs she has begun. She also plans on holding story time there during the warmer months. "This experience has been so awesome," she says. "I've been here 15 years and this absolutely is the highlight of my working for the library." Lenoir C. "Lee" Keesler, CEO of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, is equally encouraged by the possibilities inherent in the public-private initiative. "This is a great example of where an individual's vision — in this case Sandy Nichols' — intersected with the philanthropic interest of a caring donor, in this case Bissell," he says. "This intersection will make possible a wonderful learning experience for the younger patrons at South County Regional Library and their families. It's a formula we'd like to repeat many times over." "I've been here 15 years and this absolutely is the highlight of my working for the library." — Sandy Nichols Children's Library Specialist The library's new garden has a space for environmental education. BALLANTYNE MAGAZINE 63 SUMMER 2016