Apart from working as a librarian, one Coronado Public Library employee also teaches young students about the importance of environmental stewardship.
This local changemaker is Tara Davies, Teen Librarian and Environmental Librarian, whose extensive knowledge of composting and organic gardening has successfully revitalized a garden at the high school.
One of the reasons why I have taken on the role of environmental librarian is that environmental stewardship is really important to me.”-Tara Davies.
“One of the reasons why I have taken on the role of environmental librarian is that environmental stewardship is really important to me.” Davies told the Coronado News.
Leading local gardening team
As the garden advisor at Coronado Middle School and Coronado High School, Davies oversees club meetups, creates a planting schedule, and makes nursery shopping lists and trips based on the season.
The 32-year-old began working at the library in mid-2020 and has since enjoyed leading the local gardening team and getting to know the Coronado community, she said.
Davies can be found at the middle and high school gardens on Tuesdays and most Saturdays, working alongside over 60 students each week with the CHS and CMS Emerald Keepers Clubs.
“Spending time in the garden with the kids is super rewarding.”-Davies.
“Spending time in the garden with the kids is super rewarding,” said Davies. “Every time I’m at one of the gardens, students tell me that they’ve never seen a particular vegetable grow before, that they didn’t know that about plants, soil or the environment or, you know, insects.”
Davies said she enjoys fostering a space where the kids are comfortable to get curious about the natural world, the opportunity to turn the compost, tend to the plants, pick the harvest, plant new things and water the garden during a full day of management.
“I know that not everyone who works in the garden is going to be a marine biologist, or…study soil and be a geologist, but if I can just foster that interest…care or passion or empathy for the natural world and our environment, things that are not human and technological, I think it’s worthwhile,” she said.
Finding a ‘little niche’
After completing a Master Composter course with the Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista with additional hours of related volunteer service in 2013, Davies has since shared her passion by helping different community gardens throughout San Diego.
“I’ve always liked gardening,” said Davies about her Master Composter title. “Through that training, I just kind of found a little niche and something that I’m passionate about, and wanted to share sustainable practices with the larger community.”
Meanwhile, in her seventh year as a full-time librarian, Davies fulfills her role as the library’s composting educator in partnership with local environmental organization Emerald Keepers.
As Environmental Librarian, Davies runs the Seed Library in Coronado, a free community resource for patrons to plant, grow and harvest native plant seeds, flowers and vegetables from a variety of 12 seed options, provided by the city and local organizations across San Diego.
Fighting climate change
Davies said she considers composting a beneficial and an actionable step of gardening to help fight climate change and improve the local environment. And, she’s teaching these sustainable practices in Coronado.
“I found out about Emerald Keepers, and we were just natural partners,” added Davies, who is also an Emerald Keepers Board Member.
According to their website, the environmental organization’s “mission is to educate the community to develop and celebrate more sustainable practices and strive to be a model city for the health of our oceans, our beach community, and the world.”
Last year, the organization highlighted Davies’ environmental work by naming her Emerald Keeper of the Month in February.
“I was really proud and grateful to be recognized by them,” said Davies. “They’re a really great organization, and so I’m proud to partner with them with the work that I do.”
Ambassador leads with a passion
Emerald Keepers President Amy Steward said that the environmental organization is proud to partner with the Coronado Public Library.
Tara’s love for middle and high school students and passion for the environment has made the joint Emerald Keepers and Library gardens a huge success.”-Emerald Keepers President Amy Steward.
“Tara’s love for middle and high school students and passion for the environment has made the joint Emerald Keepers and Library gardens a huge success,” Steward said.
In addition, Davies’ ongoing efforts to provide students an opportunity to pursue their interest in horticultural knowledge have allowed Coronado Emerald Keepers clubs in partnership with the Rotarians to provide the Imperial Beach Food Pantry with harvested food from both gardens.
According to Davies, the donations occur once a month with an average of 5 to 10 pounds of produce.
The last delivery was Aug. 19, which included a variety of kale, potatoes, tomatoes as well as other seasonal crops.
“I’m hopeful that we’re teaching skills and fostering interests that will serve them [students] and our environment throughout their lives,” said Davies. “It furthers the library’s mission of lifelong education and fostering community connection.”