They say a person never stops learning.
To ensure that continues to ring true, the New Market Public Library started to offer programs six years ago geared toward adults that dabble in a little bit of everything.
“At the time, we had a very robust children’s program, but we were not offering anything specifically targeted to adults,” said Bev Butterfield, who, along with Bonnie Flick, co-chairs the adult programs. “When I pick programs for the year, I try to pick programs that would reach out to different interest groups. We’re trying to get lots of adults coming into the library, seeing what we have and deciding to come back again.”
The classes are usually held the first or second Saturday of the month and feature a guest lecturer who speaks to the group on an area of expertise. So far this year, Brent Kendrick, an English professor at Lord Fairfax Community College, gave a class titled, “Piecing Together the Pieces of a Crock Story,” which was a Civil War history talk. The most recent program was called “The Age of Barns” and was based on a book by Eric Sloan. Local photographer Tyre Yancey spoke on the history of barns and shared some of his photos.
“They were wonderful,” Butterfield said. “For Dr. Kendrick’s, we had a very full crowd. The programs that take history and have a story behind them are always very well received. Tyre has developed quite a following; we had an amazing 60 people show up. I’ve already booked Tyre to do several more programs this year in his series because it’s obvious we’re meeting a need there.”
As of right now, at least three more classes are on the books to take place in the upcoming months. On March 10, therapist Pat Cheeks will be giving a seminar on how to avoid stressful situations in your life. April 14 will see Allen LaFever lead a program on entrepreneurship before the final scheduled class on May 5 that will have library archivist Zach Hottel talking about Bird Haven, a farm with a rich community history.
In addition to their regularly scheduled classes, the New Market Library will also offer gardening classes on the fourth Saturday of each month at 3 p.m. These classes will be put on by Sustainability Matters, a new organization that strives for nature conservation and environmental awareness.
The organization started when a few individuals who had been leading gardening and sustainability series around four local counties were awarded a Conservation Education Award through the Lord Fairfax soil and water conservation district. During these series, the individuals found that their audience was enthusiastic on the subject matter and people wanted more.
“We wanted to come up with a structure that wasn’t too formal but gave us a framework in which to continue doing this kind of work about gardening, nature and general environmental awareness,” said Sari Carp, a member of Sustainability Matters’ advisory committee. “We thought the time had come for sustainability in the Valley, and Sustainability Matters was born.”
For four Saturdays, Sustainability Matters will offer four classes in their “Adventures in Gardening 2018: Edibles” series. Each talk will be 45 minutes to an hour and will cover a wide variety of topics dealing with edible plants. Afterward, there will be a Q&A session between the audience and the speaker.
The first class on Feb. 24 deals with berries and the best way to grow them in your yard or landscape. The class is taught by Elaine Specht, a member of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Master Gardener Association. March 24 will have Paula Brownlee give a talk on herbs and how to grow them and use them in your kitchen. The final two classes will be April 28 and May 26 and will focus on companion planting, taught by Carp, and finding and fixing problems in your garden, taught by Lora Steiner.
“[Edible gardening] is just something that a lot of us are passionate about,” Carp said. “There’s something that is really satisfying with growing your own food. This is and always has been an agricultural community, and yet, we’re seeing more farmland turned into housing developments and more people saying, ‘It’s just too hard to grow food.’ What we want to show you is some tried and true methods to make it easier.”
As part of a new organization, Carp said that having classes like the ones offered in New Market are huge for Sustainability Matters because it starts to build community and makes people aware of what they’re trying to do.
“We’re in this for the long term and we’re in this to build a community,” she said. “There are so many local gardeners that don’t have special qualifications but have tremendous knowledge. Then, there are a lot of people like me. When I moved to the Valley, I didn’t know very much about gardening in this region. I learned from other gardeners. We want everybody to have that experience and have a resource to call on.”