The sun was truly shining May 10 on the grand opening of the Children’s Learning Garden at the Red Hook Library.
As the Apple Blossom Festival swirled through the village, local dignitaries and families with children gathered behind the library to hear County Legislator Micki Strawinski, Village Mayor Ed Blundell and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill talk about the value of the library, the pending funding vote and how the garden grew into existence.
Loretta Campagna, the organizer behind the garden and co-chair of the garden committee, told the Observer she got the idea a year ago at breakfast with her husband, Frank. “This was just a vacant lot, and since we have space constraints with our summer programs, I thought, why not do something with it,” she said.
With $2,000 in seed money from the Friends of the Red Hook Library and a budget of $17,000, Frank Campagna started fundraising. “We thought it would take a year just to raise the money, but it only took a year to build,” he said.
An outpouring of community cooperation from donors and sponsors enabled the fundraising to finish in under four months. A $50,000 grant secured by Cahill went mostly to the children’s library indoors but partially to fund the garden project.
Much of what was raised came in the form of in-kind services from local contractors. Todd Abrahams did the plumbing work, A.W. Coon and Sons did all the site work, and Susan Rohrmeier and Jeff Crane painted the large wall mural that depicts a farm with animals running around and an elephant reading a book. There are planters and a pole bean structure all ready for the children to use.
Library Director Erica Freudenberger said the garden will be a place for children to plant vegetables and herbs, take summer classes and picnic with their parents. “This will give the kids a chance to learn something about gardening,” she said.