Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Delphiniums and compost

In just a few days, it will be Planting Day in Ester, and time for the gardening work party at the Ida Lane Gazebo! Plants are starting to show up in buckets and pots and trays, placed under the drip line to take advantage of any water available there right now: rhubarb, delphiniums (some wild, from the library property up the road, and some from Ester residents' gardens), columbines, strawberries, chives, and daisies. Lorna Lounsbury will be donating some composted horse manure to the cause, and a walk through the woods on Monday identified some prime rocks nearby that can be used.

The flower beds to be constructed include: a rhubarb bed in honor of Pat Garner, infamous for his rhubarb wine and a friend to local kids; another rhubarb bed for Rollie Hartung, local miner and after whom the community hall is named; and a delphinium bed for Ansgar Clausen, miner, engineer, and husband of Ida Lane. Pat and Ansgar, who were both gardeners of note, also took many photographs of Ester during the forties and fifties, preserving for future generations the character of the village and the huge machinery that moved and shaped its geography.

The Planting Day work party is the first work party in the Growing Ester's Biodiversity summer roll-your-sleeves-up series of events at the Ida Lane Clausen Gazebo. More to come!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A walk in the sun

On Saturday afternoon, May 19, a few members of the Construction Committee and the board president went for a stroll on the library property to check out possible sites for the library caretaker's cabin and outhouse, and for an outhouse near the Ida Lane Clausen Gazebo. With stakes and flagging tape, the crew located the property lines and appropriate spots for various library outbuildings.

Several small projects are planned for this summer in preparation for next year's major construction:
  • Cabin siting and design: the library will have a part-time caretaker/librarian to look after it in exchange for reduced rent on a cozy cabin in a prime location in the heart of the village of Ester. The site has been chosen, but will need to be prepared and the design determined. Local materials will be an important component of the cabin and its outhouse.
  • Composting outhouses: the composting toilet was a concept popularized and defended by Joseph Jenkins, author of The Humanure Handbook. He was definitely not the originator of the idea, however (Henry Moule of England, for example, patented the dry earth closet in 1873). Variations on the theme have existed for millennia. The advantage of a composting outhouse is that it actually breaks down the nitrogen/phosphorus component (feces and urine) and the carbon component (sawdust, toilet paper, forest duff, leaf litter, or other source) into true compost (NOT night soil) which may then be used for landscaping purposes and gardening. As Jenkins goes to great lengths to explain, the composted material from these outhouses will be perfectly sanitary after three years of alternately composting and freezing, depending on the season. And they will save the library money on topsoil, and pumping and hauling waste. Here's an example of an ADA accessible outhouse, but a search online will reveal many more. Books on the topic include:
    • The Composting Toilet System Book: A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems, an Alternative to Sewer and Septic Systems, revised edition, by David del Porto and Carol Steinfeld
    • Holy Sh*t: Managing Manure to Save Mankind, by Gene Logsdon (JTEL collection)
    • The Humanure Handbook: A Guide to Composting Human Manure, 3rd edition, by Joseph Jenkins (JTEL collection)
  • Gazebo repairs and finish work: the Ida Lane gazebo, while mostly complete, still needs gutters and a downspout with water collection, an ADA accessible ramp, window repair and shields (plus the last two stained glass windows put in place), the Ida's Clip Joint sign put up, and the dedication plaque (already designed) created and installed. The gazebo is across from the Ester Post Office, at 501 Village Road (see Google map). Some of this work will happen on Planting Day, June 2.
  • Planting Day gardening & work party: this work party is scheduled for Saturday, June 2, from 11 am to 4 pm (library members will be arriving probably starting around 10 am, so if earlier is better for you, please don't hesitate to come a little early!). This landscaping event will happen in conjunction with gazebo repairs. (Parking is available at the Golden Eagle Saloon up the street.) See also our Facebook event invitation. We are creating a large rhubarb bed in honor of Pat Garner, famed in the village for his rhubarb wine, and a delphinium bed in honor of Ansgar Clausen. Other flower beds and pots will be planted in memory of Ester's denizens and, of course, to beautify the village. If you would like to help with this gardening party, we can use:
    • food and drink for the volunteers
    • flowers and other bedding plants (strawberries, rhubarb, columbine, etc.)
    • horse manure or compost
    • bedding soil
    • gardening tools (don't forget to put your name on them!)
  • Signage and lighting installation: the library and gazebo need lighting and signs so it's clear to library members where the library is! Thomas Hart of Iron Amenities will be creating a roadsign for the library; motion detection lights will be installed in the library and on the porch. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May lecture: cultivating biodiversity

Ester Library Lecture: Cultivating Biodiversity in a Farm Ecosystem 

Susan Willsrud, co-founder of Calypso Farm & Ecology Center, is the next speaker featured in the 2012 John Trigg Ester Library Lecture Series, on Wednesday evening, May 16, 7 pm at Hartung Hall.

Xmas lima beans
Christmas lima beans, Phaeseolus lunatus, Wikimedia file, CC Share Alike. Beans are among the many examples of agricultural biodiversity.
She will talk about biodiversity from the soil up, how Calypso and like-minded farmers work on cultivating agrobiodiversity, and how it informs her farming practices.

The lectures are held monthly. Upcoming speakers this year include plant ecologist Trish Wurtz (June); sociologist Sine Anahita (July); organic farmer Mike Emers (August); seed librarian Deirdre Helfferich (September); and glaciologist Matt Nolan (October). For more information on the library, its lecture series, volunteering or donations, or events, please e-mail info@esterlibrary.org or see the website at www.esterlibrary.org.