BINGHAMTON, NY – (WIVT/WBGH) A new initiative from the Broome County Public Library System is welcoming community members to “checkout'” local produce, free of charge.

The library launched its “Farm to Library” program in July and has since been offering a refrigerator full of fruits and vegetables from local gardens, farms, and other sources during library hours. The initiative invites individuals to share and support Broome County’s local agriculture while also encouraging healthy eating in the community.

“This program has only been running for a little over a month, and it’s already a huge success. We’re seeing kids come in for our Summer Reading program and run immediately to the produce cooler to see what fresh treats we have available that day. Apples and bananas have been huge hits, but so have veggies like cauliflower and peppers,” added Josias Bartram, Library Director at the Broome County Public Library.  

While many local organizations are helping to keep fridge stocked each week, the library is inviting local home gardeners to join the collaboration. Anyone interested in participating is asked to “grow a row” in their own garden to bring in and share with the library. All are welcome to give and receive the available fruits and vegetables.

“We applaud the Broome County Public Library for providing free produce to community members and patrons of the library. Creating an environment that increases access to healthier food choices can have lifelong health benefits, especially for the youngest library patrons,” said Aimee Chaluisant, Public Health Educator and CHSC Coordinator for the Broome County Health Department.  

The Farm to Library program is set to complement various existing classes at the library. Held by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County and VINES, members of the community can participate in gardening, cooking, and nutrition classes throughout the year.

Organizations partnering with the Broome County Public Library for the initiative include the Broome County Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools and Communities program with assistance from the Rural Health Network of South-Central NY and their Public Health AmeriCorps program. 

For more information about the Farm to Library program, the library can be reached at (607)778-6451.

The Broome County Public Library is located at 185 Court Street in Binghamton.