Matt Roberson and Julie Spain organized the Marysville Plant Library on Milford Avenue, which provides community members a safe space to share plants. The plant library officially opens on Wednesday. (Journal-Tribune photo by Ally Lanasa)
The Marysville Plant Library, a plant-sharing space, provides community members with the opportunity to try their hand at gardening without wasting money.
The plant library officially opens Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at 663 Milford Avenue with an official stocking of plants.
“We’re encouraging people not to all come through at the same time,” said Julie Spain, a life-long resident of Marysville and a local attorney, adding that there are limited parking spots.
During the open house, volunteers will be present to share information about the available plants. In the future, Spain said community members will share details about the plants they donate in The Marysville Plant Library Facebook group, so that visitors will be able to identify what is in stock.
“We’ve already had a good amount of community members commit to bringing stuff in,” said Matt Roberson, who has led the design and building process of the community space.
Spain contacted Roberson about having a plant library in Marysville in a vacant car wash structure owned by Clay Moore, next to Celebrity Printing, 620 S. Maple St. Moore has donated the space for the use of the plant library. Spain said she personally knows Moore and he is “really community minded.”
“I had some conversations with Julie Spain in early July and that’s when things got going,” Roberson said. Spain explained that their three-week long professional partnership has been easy with Roberson’s setup from a similar operation in Gahanna and her knowledge as a zoning attorney.
Roberson and his wife, Kayla, owners of Blank Slate Coffee in Gahanna, started the Gahanna Plant Library in 2019 in a neglected car wash structure.
Roberson said his wife is “an incredible gardener,” and the concept for the Gahanna Plant Library stemmed from the sharing of perennials with neighbors.
In 2020, the Robersons founded Creative Assets for Central Ohio (CAFCO), a registered nonprofit and “community enrichment organization.”
“We found that there was a lot of community energy to support projects like the plant library,” Roberson said.
The purpose of CAFCO is “to be able to come alongside other community groups” and help them complete projects.
Roberson also runs the Mural Gallery in the remaining car wash bays at the Gahanna operation. Roberson described the gallery as “an imperfectionist, outdoor gallery focused on large format art.”
Most of the pieces in the gallery were donated by artists with material cost covered by a private donor or limited commission.
“The Mural Gallery is a project that we love and could be really great in Marysville,” Roberson said. “There’s definitely a lot more that we can do.”
The Marysville Plant Library organizers aspire to increase the safety of plant swapping by providing a central location for this activity.
“It gives us another space, a nice space where people can engage with their community,” Spain said.
The public is invited to walk through the plant library from dawn to dusk seven days a week. The plan is to have the plant library open through the fall. The longtime future of the operation is uncertain with potential development plans for the former car wash.
Community members may take what they can use or bring their extra perennials and houseplant cuttings to share with others.
“Any kind of plant is acceptable to donate,” Roberson said, adding that there will be different sections for perennials, herbs and house plants.
Gardening supplies are also appreciated.
“It’s not a one-for-one trade system,” Spain said.
While there is no rule about how many plants a person may take, Roberson explained that the Marysville location will follow Gahanna’s simple value structure based on “curiosity, generosity and community.” Community members are encouraged to “whenever possible, leave more than they take,” he said.
Spain added that community members are asked to only take two or three plants during the first few days of opening.
Mantey Machine, a professional steel fabrication and installation company, has partnered with the operation to ensure that the shelving installed is safe and structurally sound.
“Everything we’ve put into that space is exclusively recycled and donated materials,” Spain said. “We’re trying really hard to be sustainable.”
There is a painting in the bay stating “Bee the change you want to see.” At the opening on Wednesday evening, the plant library organizers hope visitors will engage with the space by writing on the wall how “they want to see growth brought about in their own life.”
Organizers and community members paint the inspirational “Bee the change you wish to see” sign inside the Marysville Plant Library on Milford Avenue on Friday. Pictured, from left, are Julie Spain, Andrew Morbitzer, Matt Roberson, Rachel Dilley and Rebecca Dilley. The plant library officially opens on Wednesday. (Journal-Tribune photo by Ally Lanasa)