Growing Ester’s Biodiversity

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

Growing Ester’s Biodiversity, or GEB, is a seed library & biodiversity education program at the John Trigg Ester Library, launched in early 2012. To sign up for the e-mail list, please contact us at, or see our Facebook page, the JTEL page, or the library’s blog for the latest announcements.

What is a seed library?

A seed library, or community seed bank, is a way that the public can promote agricultural biodiversity specific to their local region, preserving heirloom garden varieties and learning about seed saving and starting. Members “check out” seeds from the library to grow in their gardens, and participate in workshops, reading groups, or other events. At the end of the growing season, selected seed suppliers or program members “return” seeds to the library for use next year.

GEB program pages

About the program

Program mission:

Growing Ester’s biodiversity is a community seed-sharing and educational program dedicated to improving the agricultural self-reliance of the Ester area through seeds and educational materials and events on food security and sustainability issues.

The purpose of the GEB program is to:

  • create an accessible and affordable source of regionally-adapted seeds that grow well in the Ester area that is maintained by a local community of caring farmers and gardeners;
  • educate library members and the public about biodiversity, garden and plant ecology, sustainable food production, food sovereignty, cultural traditions concerning food and agriculture, heirloom varieties, Ester and Alaska’s agricultural history, and related topics;
  • build community awareness and connections through partnerships between the library and local nonprofits, food producers, horticulture businesses, gardeners, educational institutions, health practitioners, artists, and others; and
  • strengthen the JTEL’s connections to its community, membership, and volunteers; broaden the relevance of the library to area residents; set an example for other libraries and organizations; and support and supplement the other educational programs of the JTEL.

JTEL community gardens

The JTEL has perennial beds by the Ida Laine Clausen Gazebo that include flowers, shrubs, and some edible perennials such as rhubarb, domestic raspberries, and chives. We encourage library members to participate in planning and tending these gardens and the hanging baskets on the gazebo and composting outhouse nearby.

At the Clausen Cabin, there are also community gardens. These gardens have a history behind them, with traditional plants and varieties having been grown there by the builders and subsequent residents of the cabin for more than half a century. Several beds are available for use, but sign up early in the spring to use them! There aren’t many and they will go fast! Both flower and vegetable plots available. Note that one bed will be reserved for children’s programs.

The GEB program will be using these gardens to grow out and harvest seed for the seed library, also. Please come to our spring garden planning meeting to join in the fun!

Program partners

The GEB program relies on strong community partnerships. We are forming cooperative partnerships with local agriculturalists and institutions, including:

For more information

Program Founder and Coordinator (2011–2017): Deirdre Helfferich

Facebook Page: Growing Ester’s Biodiversity: JTEL’s seed library