The Green Chillis is not a new rock band or a food to eat, but a group of young Chillicotheans cultivating food and flowers.



“We were thinking about greening Chillicothe and we didn’t want a lame name,” said Chillicothe Public Library young adult librarian Catherine Barnett.



Making a pun, the name describes club members: those who are greening Chillicothe, starting with the library grounds.


The Green Chillis is not a new rock band or a food to eat, but a group of young Chillicotheans cultivating food and flowers.

“We were thinking about greening Chillicothe and we didn’t want a lame name,” said Chillicothe Public Library young adult librarian Catherine Barnett.

Making a pun, the name describes club members: those who are greening Chillicothe, starting with the library grounds.

A core group of four young volunteers with siblings and others planted the project, including the help of IVC?Key Club members.

“When I?see a big expanse of grass I think, ‘Ooh, that could be a place to grow food,” said Barnett.

The idea for the group has been “percolating” in her mind for some time now, she said.

“Thankfully, Susan (Drissi) and the board have been very good in letting me try these sorts of things,”?she said.

Once she received the green light for the project, she mapped all the areas on library ground where the beds could go.
They ended up planting on the Bradley Avenue side of the building.

Getting some children’s gardening ideas from the book, “Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots” by Sharon Lovejoy, Barnett began the project.

They found seeds left over from the previous year available to them from Picket Fence, Seed Savers Exchange (Herman’s Garden) and America the Beautiful Fund.

Other items also were donated to them, such as a tandem load of soil from Hoerr Nursery, manure from HOI Horse Arena, mulch from Peters Landscaping and a grant from the Peoria Garden Club which paid for 3 1/2 foot-by-7 foot raised beds.

The eight beds contain flowers, herbs and vegetables. They also made a sunflower house to be used in future storytimes.

One bed includes the “Three Sisters” method of planting corn, beans and squash together.

Along the way, she and the group forged ahead when questions sprouted, such as who would do the work and where will the seeds or plants come from?

They also plowed ahead to overcome timing issues of when plants were ready.

Before they headed outside on a hot day recently, Barnett looked over her list of things that needed to be done and told the group what needed to be accomplished in around an hour’s time frame.

Carrots needing thinning, and some areas needed more mulch and soil.

“I just love gardening, and I have a huge garden at home,” Anna Green, 12, said as she worked. Her father helped the group by hauling the manure needed.

“Oh, no, guys, what happened to our brussel sprouts?” Barnett asked as she looked at the plants.

After crowding around and inspecting the area, she and the girls found the eggs of cabbage worms.

The girls discuss their weekend plans and some of what is planted that they have not learned to like, yet.

“None of us like okra, but we’re growing it because it looks really cool,” said Barnett.

Malabar spinach is another that Barnett said she is looking for a way to cook so it will not seem so slimy.

“I’ve eaten whole salads of that. It took determination,” she told them.

The library’s patio also serves as an area used for transplanting.

Letting nothing go to waste, plants on a table inside library doors show off the abundance of their handiwork.

Not knowing how many seeds would grow into sustainable plants, the group planted a lot.

“That’s another thing with this — we wanted to spread it around,” said Barnett.

They ended up with 120 tomato plants and 130 peppers plants to share with the community.

Their knowledge also is shared from what they learn in the library garden and home.

Joanna Wainman, 10, said her mom told her to try the group.

Her sister, 12-year-old Jesse, shared her gardening adventures as they looked for pests.

At the Wainman house, Jesse said, they each have a flower and vegetable garden using the square foot method with almost all raised beds.

Barnett said she would like to continue the program each year, with work most all year round to do.

They began with the seeds in the winter, tilling in May and then planting.

“It certainly has been a learning experience,” said Barnett.

They had to wait on each stage of the process, but they learn along the way.  

They also will have to decide what to do with the fruits of their labor other than using them in library programs.

Barnett said she would like to donate the food to a local food pantry.

Community members also pitched in to offer their expertise for programs as well.

The group meets at 3:30 p.m. Thursdays at the library and can always use more hands, Barnett said.