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Library activity for youth in Powell River teaches soil science

Public library connects with community gardens to bring summer reading club outside
Powell River Public Library.

COVID-19 and construction following a flood created a riddle for how Powell River Public Library could offer unique and engaging programming.

A free, seven-week Summer Reading program, with the theme “Crack the Case!” will again be offered remotely, according to a media release, but library staff members were looking for something a little different to get participants excited about books and reading and connect to the outdoors. The answer, evidently, was to plant some underpants.

“Planting underwear the same way you plant flowers sounds kind of goofy, but there is serious science behind it,” stated teen services coordinator Mel Edgar. “The activity makes visible the hidden and mysterious processes and organisms that live in the soil.”

Participants are invited to “Plant their Undies!” at the start of Summer Reading Club and harvest the results at the end of the program. Careful excavation of the planted undies will reveal the work of nematodes and bacteria that live in the soil and break down organic materials, including underpants.

“For a lot of us, including kids, the pandemic has meant a lot of time spent inside around a computer; the library was looking to offer something a little different,” stated Edgar. “The activity is based on a campaign developed by the Soil Conservation Council of Canada, and is a really fun way for kids to learn more about the world around us and under us.”

Summer Reading Club is free and open to local youth between the ages of five and 15. Registered participants receive a package of materials and instructions.

This year, along with invitations to virtual fingerprint forensics and detective character workshops and book clubs, that also includes a free pair of cotton undies and a connection to several community garden spaces offering room for planted undies, according to the release.

Blueberry Commons, Sycamore Commons, Family Place Sprouts at the Community Resource Centre garden and the Powell River General Hospital garden have all signed on to offer space for planting undies.

“What an exciting experiment; we are glad to be a part of it,” stated Ron Berezan, farm manager at Blueberry Commons and coordinator at Sycamore Commons. “Can’t wait to see what underwear trees we grow!”

Summer Reading Club runs between July 2 and August 13 at the library. For more information or to register, go to or email Chloe Gruenhage at [email protected]. Registration closes on June 14.