How does your garden grow? Libraries go hi-tech with hydroponic vertical farms walls

This pepper plant is growing on the hydroponic farm wall on the back of the Glenrock Library. (Cinthia Stimson photo)

By: 
Cinthia Stimson, cinthia@glenrockind.com

An endeavor to provide homegrown herbs and vegetables has hit Converse County Libraries (CCL) in Glenrock and Douglas recently, with the addition of “Farm Walls” behind the two library buildings.

Edible plants, including Swiss rainbow chard, dwarf Siberian kale, sweet basil, Gai Choi mustard greens, chilies, red and green lettuces, arugula, cabbage, cherry tomatoes & cilantro are now growing in specially designed hydroponic garden walls at each location.

A year ago, CCL Director Cindy Moore saw the program was available via the Wyoming Business Council (WBC). She loved the idea, believing it would be something patrons would enjoy and would provide for interaction with the libraries’ various programming/projects.

“It’s something I looked at last year, but it would’ve cost us a lot of money. I noticed the Wyoming Business Council was doing it again this year – and it was less expensive. There were grants available and I thought it would be a great addition to the libraries, so I applied for a grant,” Moore explained.

She applied for and received WBC’s grant, and was awarded $2,000 for the project per library.

WBC awarded 13 Farm Wall grants in seven Wyoming communities in early April. In addition to Glenrock and Douglas, Laramie, Sheridan, Goshen County, Cody, Rock Springs and Casper received farm wall grants.

The vertical gardens are an innovative new way to grow small gardens without soil where there’s limited space.

Living walls date back to ancient hanging gardens in Babylon, according to WBC officials. Their small footprint allows food to be grown and harvested within city limits and crowded urban areas, offering another option for bringing fresh produce to more people. The lush greenery also adds aesthetic value to otherwise bare, unused space – such as library walls – according to an article published by WBC in April.

Bio-Logic Designs’ Travis Hines installed the farm walls in Converse County and plans to rotate through all of the gardens every few weeks.

“Travis plans doing a circular upkeep of the walls around the state every couple of weeks. He’s a big hydroponics guy. He’s agreed to come back and do a program for us at the libraries, too,” Moore said.

Moore’s enthusiasm for the project is apparent when she talks about the gardens.

“I really think it’s going to be neat for the kids and patrons to be able to see things growing and to get to sample some of the produce. We’ve seen interest in the  gardens increasing since they’ve been (installed). We’re all so excited to see how the gardens turn out. The garden walls adds to our communities, as well as to the libraries, and gives us new ideas on programming. It’s going to be fun,” she said.

CCL Adult Activities Coordinator Tamara Lehner provided a tour of the Glenrock Library’s farm wall on Friday, pointing out each of the young plants hanging in vertical rows on the back of the building’s wall.

“Eventually, we’re hoping we can share produce with our local food banks. We’re really excited about growing fresh herbs and vegetables. The project was Cindy (Moore’s) brainchild and it’s fantastic. We’re thrilled she was able to get the grant and we can do this within our communities,” Lehner said.

For more information on the farm walls, contact CCL Douglas at 307-358-3644 or CCL Glenrock at 307-436-2573.

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Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

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