by Lisa Tome
Betsy Schroeder may be gone but her green fingers live on.
Schroeder, the former branch manager at the North East Library died in May 2014.
The seeds she planted are still being sown in more ways than one.
A library program, which teaches children to grow a garden founded by Schroeder, is being carried on by Branch Librarian Barbara Jannaman.
"She (Schroeder) was the face of the library. She was a marvelous person," said Jannaman.
The two women have a history.
Before taking a job at the library, Schroeder was a manager at the now closed Border's Books and Music in Delaware. Jannaman also worked there.
Later, Jannaman was looking for a job and interviewed to work for the Cecil library system. While doing research for her interview, she discovered Schroeder worked there too.
"I was looking through the website to prepare for my interview and I saw her name. There was a position open at North East and I thought it would be a dream come true to work for her. She was so positive, so gracious and always so appreciative of everything we did," said Jannaman. "The patrons loved her."
During her time at the library, Schroeder started the Greenfingers Gardening Club. That program, for elementary school age children, was designed to teach children about soil, compost, and growing vegetables. It was started with a nine foot by nine foot plot of land. Schroeder did the physical labor with the children. Jannaman did gardening lessons indoors.
After Schroeder died, Jannaman decided to continue the program. Schroeder's family members requested that donations in her family go to the library for the garden project. The garden has now grown to four beds and there's a plaque naming it "Betsy's Garden". Master gardeners Tom Hannum and Vicki Diamonte have helped maintain it. Jannaman has also studied gardening and now works with library staffer Tracy Alexander.
"We are now able to grow more, share more, and teach more," said Jannaman, who kicked off the Greenfingers program last week. "I've learned a lot. I'm not a gardener. I've had to study and research."
The vegetables that are grown are taken home by the children. Surplus is shared with library patrons. The class members also use it to make recipes such as pizza.
"It's an honor to do this. I thought so much of Betsy," said Jannaman. "I feel honored and privileged to carry on what she started."
There are future plans to build a bigger North East Branch Library at North East Station. Jannaman said that the garden beds will be able to be relocated and were selected not only for their beauty, but due to their portability.