Metro Detroit libraries host free 'Gro-Town seed stations'

Musician mom hopes to get more children gardening

By Sarah Mayberry, M.P.H. - Producer

DETROIT - It started as a local mom's effort to get children to spend more time outdoors. But that simple idea has blossomed into so much more.

Danielle Carlomusto of Grosse Pointe Woods, is a musician, an avid gardener and the mother of three-year-old twins. Her passion for all three of those roles lead her to create a unique program that celebrates the simple act of planting a seed.

Carlomusto's love of gardening came from her grandfather.

Danielle Carlomusto with her twins. (WDIV)

Danielle Carlomusto's grandfather, who inspired her love of gardening. (WDIV)

"Giuseppe Carlomusto from Italy came here, and he had the best garden in the neighborhood over on Penrod in Detroit," Carlomusto said.

It's a joy she hopes to pass on to her children.

"Getting kids outside, celebrating the small, the simple, the humble seed, is something very worthy of celebration," Carlomusto said.

For this mom, that celebration lead to a song.

"My kids loved digging in the dirt in the garden, let's write a song about digging in the dirt," Carlomusto said.

Children at the Northville library. (WDIV)

Children with seeds. (WDIV)

The result was the catchy tune, "Diggin' in the Dirt." It's track one on Carlomusto's first album "Motown is Gro-Town."

Carlomusto asked seed companies if they would be willing to donate seeds for her to pass out to children after her live performances.

ACE Hardware, Bordine's Nursery and Annie's Heirloom Seeds all agreed. When she ended up with 4,500 seed packets, Carlomusto started contacting local libraries.

"I've got 17 libraries, six in Detroit, 11 others in the Metro Detroit area, all housing Gro-Town Seed Stations where any child can walk in, choose a packet of seeds, take them home for free," explained Carlomusto.

The seed station has been a hit at the Northville District Library, said director Laura Mancini.

Gro-Town (WDIV)

"We've had great response to it, and we're just really thrilled to be able to do this this summer," Mancini said. "It's all about connecting. We're working to connect the kids with their food in a whole new way. To connect the kids with the land in a whole new way, and also to connect them with thinking about libraries in a whole new way. Today's libraries in the 21st century are about so many things. The information isn't just limited to what's behind the spine of a book."

They're connections Carlomusto hopes will grow, along with her seeds.

"I think that it is a testament to the things that parents really do want for their children -- these simple things -- this connection to the world around them," Carlomusto said. "They're learning things like patience and responsibility and hope.

"I think when a kid grows that vegetable, by themselves, all of a sudden it tastes a little better doesn't it?"

The Gro-Town seed stations can be found at the Flat Rock Public Library, Garden City Public Library, Hamtramck Public Library, Livonia Public Library: Civic Center, Livonia Public Library: Noble, Livonia Public Library: Sandburg, Northville District Library, Novi Public Library, Redford Township District Library, Trenton Veterans Memorial Library, Wyandotte Bacon Memorial District Library and the following Detroit Public Libraries: Main Campus, Chaney, Knapp, Parkman, Sherwood Forest, Wilder.

Carlomusto's album "Motown is Gro-Town" is available on iTunes, Amazon and through Detroit Public Television. You can visit her website here.

She also has a web series on YouTube and Facebook featuring 10-minute videos designed for preschoolers and kindergartners.

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