Borrow garden tools at the library

Lending libraries of garden tools

What a great idea! Especially this year, when so many people are getting into growing their own vegetables because of the economy. The public library in Turner, Maine, is loaning out garden tools.

Members can borrow any of more than a dozen handy garden tools -- anything from pruners to a bulb planter -- and just like borrowing a book, you can renew it at the end of a week if you need it longer.

According to The Associated Press, "Library Director Vicki Varney says the tools are available to help both new gardeners and others who might not have the right tool for the job. " They were donated by a local True Value Hardware store.

This isn't a new idea, of course. The Santa Rosa Public Library in California also allows members to go home with tools as well as books and DVDs.

The Phinney Neighborhood Association in Seattle loans all sorts tools -- from a cement mixer to an air compressor, and including hoes and hedge trimmers. But they have a recommended "donation" per week of borrowing, which means they really aren't free, although it's better than buying something you use only occasionally.

In praising this trend, treehugger mentions the Berkeley (Calif.) Tool Lending Library, which has thousands of tools to loan and is administered by the Berkeley Public Library. It pioneered this effort back in the late 1980s.

Also in California, Dustin Zuckerman of Santa Rosa has set up a one-man tool-sharing operation. It includes a power washer and a rototiller. He even gives a tutorial in how to use whatever's being borrowed.

As I read about this, it occurred to me that I have some tools that I haven't used since we moved to Boston nine years ago. I think I'm going to offer them to the community garden a block away from our house, to see if they'd be interested in loaning them to those who have plots.

My husband and I enjoy walking by that garden so much each day that it only seems right that we do something to say so.

In a time of heightened environmental awareness and poor economy, this idea of borrowing garden tools instead of buying them would seem a natural. I sure hope it spreads.

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