Friday, February 28, 2014

More on seed swaps and seed libraries in Alaska

The seed library craze has finally hit the 49th state! One aim of the JTEL seed library program has been to inspire other, similar programs in Alaska by setting an example. This year seems to be the year that seed swaps and seed libraries are blossoming:
  • with an article in The Ruralite about seed librarians, a University Park Elementary School librarian, Carol Smallwood, has become inspired. U Park has a small school garden that Calypso Farm & Ecology Center helped them set up, so this school is already involved with growing things for educational activities.
  • The Dillingham Public Library recently started a do-it-yourself seed package swap on their bulletin board. A local gardening club has a seedling swap that got going last year and proved very popular, and now is working with the library to coordinate their events.
  • Saskia Esslinger has begun work on a seed library and a seed swap with the Anchorage branch of the Cooperative Extension.
We hope this is just the beginning. Our check-out program just began this year, so with the book and film collection on biodiversity, seed swaps, talks by local experts, workshops, and now the benefit of seeds available (just like books) to our membership, the Growing Ester's Biodiversity program is slowly fulfilling its mission.
If you would like to start a seed library in your area and have questions, or want to volunteer for the JTEL's GEB program, contact Deirdre Helfferich at or 474-6923 (daytime work) or 479-3368 (home) or the JTEL, at 374-8080. 

Thank you!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Senator Begich and Seedstock

Well, Seedstock was a tiny affair, but we received a lot of seeds nonetheless: four varieties of tomatoes, one variety of peas, mixed greens, and six or seven varieties of grains (rye, barley, wheat, and oats). There was a lively discussion about the merits of hugelkultur, a type of permaculture gardening that works very well for at least one local gardener.

Senator Mark Begich showed up and was quite interested in our plans for the new building, asking questions about how it would work and offering suggestions for how we might get it funded.

Senator Begich at the John Trigg Ester Library's Clausen Cabin on Feb. 2, 2014, reviewing the draft plan/explanatory poster for the new library building's Passive House design with board president Deirdre Helfferich. 
Later, as people arrived to speak with the Senator, the topic shifted from the library to everything from Pebble Mine to Social Security.

From left to right: Senator Begich, Mike Musick, Ritchie Musick,  JTEL board vice president Phil Rulon, Charlie Gallagher. In the foreground: JTEL board president Deirdre Helfferich.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Senator Begich coming to Seedstock

Senator Begich will be one of the guests at Seedstock tomorrow, staying from 12:45 to 1:30. He'll say a few words and then take questions and comments.

This is a function that libraries typically fulfill: providing a public meeting space where ideas may be exchanged, both through the medium of the written word but also the meeting of minds through conversation. Senators, Congresspeople, legislators, and the like often meet people they don't ordinarily have a chance to talk informally with at events like ours, providing another means for democratic participation in government.

So come out and have a conversation with your senator as well as your neighbor!