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February 24, 2021

On the Bookshelf: Libraries host gardening, ESL classes

Whether you have a green thumb or you’d like to grow one, the Master Gardeners can help. On Aug. 11, Joan Cloutier, Master Gardener and library coordinator for the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, presented an educational talk at the Gilroy library on growing cool season vegetables.
The University of Santa Clara offers the five-month Master Gardeners program, which teaches the public about home horticulture and pest management. At the conclusion of the program, attendees are certified as Master Gardeners. Each graduate then strives to fulfill the organization’s mission of educating the public on gardening.
Cloutier does exactly that through the informational talks presented at the Gilroy and Morgan Hill libraries.
“We’re part of the University of California, so our mission is to give good data-based, scientific information to the public,” said Cloutier, adding that libraries are the perfect venue for presentations. “Its an excellent relationship because it’s a good way to meet the public, and the library also has a lot of books and information.”
San Martin resident, Bobbi Boehm, an attendee of the talk series for the past four years, is a fan.
“They cover so many different topics, and it’s nice because you always pick up one new piece of information,” Boehm said. “I learn something every time I come to one.”
Cloutier’s shopping list of options for cool weather gardens included broccoli, cauliflower, kale, a variety of mixed greens, carrots, beets, many types of lettuce, bok choy, chard and spinach. Cloutier returns to the Gilroy library on Sept. 15 for a class on drought tolerant ornamental plants.
Practice speaking English at Morgan Hill library
Every Thursday afternoon at Morgan Hill library, Jeff Grub, supervising librarian for Adult and Teen Services, hosts the ESL Conversation Club to help people improve their comprehension of the English language and practice speaking English through discussions of everyday subjects.
“It’s a kind of an adjunct for English language classes,” Grubb said.
Many members of the club are enrolled at Gavilan College or in other adult education classes.
“This is more of a chance to sit down and just use what they’ve learned,” he said.
Originally from Iran, Morgan Hill resident Sara Aminzadeh enjoys participating in the club.
“Yes, I like my group, they are very friendly,” Aminzadeh said.
Diana Cervantes, a Morgan Hill resident and native of Mexico, began attending the club over four months ago, when she saw an advertisement posted at the library. What she discovered at the meetings keeps bringing her back.
“Oh, I love it because of the diversity and because we are all respectful,” Cervantes said. “We share information, and we laugh a lot.”
Vicky Reader and Gisela Steffe, volunteers of Friends of the Morgan Hill Library, help Grubb with the weekly meetings. Reader believes the relaxed setting is an attractive feature of the club. “There’s no pressure, there’s no homework with us,” she said.
Steffe’s participation in the club led her to an eye-opening revelation.
“It does bring home that we’re so much alike,” she said. “Even though you’re from Malayasia, or heaven knows where, every culture has the same ideas and the same aspirations.”
For more information about library events go to or

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