TRURO — This summer, when the “mud kitchen” behind the Truro Public Library is open for business, Leela Okeanos, who just turned six, plans on making vegan mud pies. The base, she said, will be a blend of soil and clay, and the filling will be chockful of leaves and sticks. “Oh, and tree bark on top,” she added, “as icing.”
Seven-year-old Malina Storer, meanwhile, intends to pack those mud pies with protein. Worms will be folded in, she said, alongside a sprinkling of ladybugs — with maybe a butterfly for garnish.
The library’s outdoor spaces have gone through big changes since winter, as library staff and students from local high schools joined forces to revamp the community garden and build the much-anticipated mud kitchen. The project was funded by a $10,000 grant from the Mass. Board of Library Commissioners, awarded last July.
Maggie Hanelt, the library’s assistant director, recruited a band of local teenagers from Nauset Regional High School and the Cape Cod Regional Technical High School to offer up their ideas for the outdoor spaces.
One icy day in January, students from Cape Cod Tech’s senior engineering class surveyed the site and got to work preparing designs using 3D-modeling software. Several weeks later, they put on a PowerPoint presentation for Hanelt and other Truro community members. The audience suggested creating a more “Hobbit”-inspired atmosphere, said Bob Capurso, who teaches the Tech’s senior engineering class. The teens shifted gears, setting their sights on finding local locust wood.
Following the February brainstorming, members of AmeriCorps joined in, clearing debris and leveling the backyard area, said Bob Bennett, program supervisor for the organization’s Outer Cape volunteers.
That Hobbit-y locust wood, meanwhile, has been secured, and Tech students have used it to fence in an area for the mud kitchen. These students alternate between two weeks of academic classes and two weeks of shop, during which Capurso’s class heads to Truro by van. At the library, they’ve been working from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. before hustling back to Harwich to wrap up the school day. Two countertops are ready to go, fashioned with cedar wood and coated with waterproofing and, this week, the students have been installing copper sinks.
Members of Nauset’s Green Club have also come to help do some landscaping in the areas surrounding the mud kitchen.
Sarah Naciri, who works for Sustainable CAPE (Center for Agricultural Preservation & Education), has been the farmer at the library for about three years and is working on growing an edible forest path between the library and Sally’s Way. She’ll be planting all sorts of fruits and vegetables, including squash, kale, Swiss chard, horseradish, and blueberries. On Saturday, April 30, Truro voters authorized the appropriation of $15,800 to fund this project with Community Preservation Act money.
Hanelt, meanwhile, has tried her hand at growing moss on rocks — a process that involves grabbing a clump, pushing it into a divot, and “seeing what happens,” she remarked.
She’s planning on stocking the kitchen with clay and jugs of water for mud pie making. Eventually, she’s aiming to get an outdoor faucet installed. Also in the pipeline: a pretend oven, crafted from cedar wood, outfitted with a hinged door so those pies can “bake.”