A new urban garden will take root downtown this September.

The Plaza Planter Project will allow Tucson residents the opportunity to adopt a planter outside the Joel D. Valdez Main Library. The project is spearheaded by librarian Karen Greene.

The project is twofold, said Greene, who wanted to help promote the Seed Library as well as beautify the plaza by removing the current greenery in the planters.

Though the project is still in its early stages, Greene has contacted gardening programs such as the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society and Native Seeds/SEARCH to serve as mentors to new gardeners interested in claiming a planter.

There are 17 planters outside the library, but Greene said the project will be starting with six. They are about 2-feet deep and 1-foot across.

"The hope is that once we get the six (commitments) we'll grow from there," Greene said.

The Downtown Tucson Partnership will help provide soil, and the University of Arizona's Compost Cats will donate compost. Gardeners can bring their own seeds or borrow from the Seed Library, but Greene said most materials will be provided by the mentor groups.

When borrowing seeds, gardeners are asked that once their plant reaches maturity, they use the seeds to replenish the library.

Gardeners can tend to their own plants when they want, but Greene said members could designate someone each week to tend to the plants.

Greene said she is undecided about what to do if gardeners want to grow vegetables, if they would want to keep what they grow, establish a trade program or if the produce would be donated to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

The program has already received a planter adoption request from City High School, which takes part in many sustainability projects around Tucson.

A project such as this is necessary, Belle Starr, the deputy director for Native Seeds/SEARCH, said in an email.

"It proves that the power of a community rallying around something as important as food security anchored in seeds and seed saving is doable and exciting," Starr said. "Add to that the visual beauty and involvement of all ages and you have a recipe for success as well as a program that is cutting edge."

There will be five informational sessions leading up to the official planting day Sept. 28, with a mentor meeting Sept. 14 for gardeners to decide what to plant.

"It will be another way of engaging the plaza," Greene said. "We want to make it an inviting place for everyone."

To Participate

Call the Pima County Public Library Infoline at 791-4010 for more information.

Lynley Price is a University of Arizona student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at 573-4117 or starapprentice@azstarnet.com