Rotarians Hear About Los Alamos Community Seed Library

Rotary friend Jolanta Tuzel, left, and Eva Jacobson from Mesa Public Libraries sort seeds into packets. Tuzel shared hundreds of seeds she had collected from her family garden including  Queen Anne’s Lace, Coneflower, and Indian Blanket. Photo by Linda Hull

 Rotarian Skip King with Echinacea seeds sorted to give librarian Eva Jacobson. Photo by Linda Hull

Rotarian Paul Frederickson adds his name to the Los Alamos Community Seed Library email distribution list. Photo by Linda Hull

Local educator Liz Martineau shares information about the Los Alamos Community Seed Library during the November 6 meeting of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos, which was held at the United Church. Photo by Linda Hull

Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

“It’s a grassroots idea sprouting across our County” and seen in national trends, remarked community educator Liz Martineau and librarian Eva Jacobson as they introduced Rotarians to the Los Alamos Community Seed Library (LACSL) at the Rotary Club’s November 7 meeting

Although the LACSL held its first steering committee meeting in April of this year, Martineau reminded the audience that “there is a long history of gardening on the Pajarito Plateau that dates back to the Ancestral Puebloan people.”  In contemporary times, the Los Alamos Ranch School (1912-1942) maintained its own gardens, tended by students, and records show that victory gardens were planted here as early as 1944 extending through World War II.  Our first garden club was established in 1947, and master gardeners have beautified our downtown since 1990 with the Los Alamos Demonstration Garden (Demo Garden) at the corner of Central and Oppenheimer.

Through its mission, LACSL “cultivates a community culture of life-long learning and sharing through seed stewardship.”  LACSL currently works in partnership with the Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC) and Mesa Public Library.  PEEC staff provide their experience and their knowledge of plants and seeds, the space for programs, and on-site gardens; the library offers room for storing the seeds, which are collected in well-labeled packets, and provides the infrastructure to check out the seeds.  The library also hosts public programs.

As described in Martineau and Jacobson’s PowerPoint presentation, the guiding principles that support the LACSL mission statement are:

Learn–connect community gardeners from beginner to expert with resources, information, and programs about growing, harvesting, and saving seeds that tie us to local history, land and culture.

Save–support seed stewardship through the saving and exchanging of locally adapted, regional, and heirloom seeds that contribute to local biodiversity.

Share–aim to establish and grow accessible and sustainable sources of seeds supplied by and for the community through exchange, donations, and lending.

Essentially, “borrow, grow, return.”

There are several ways you may become involved in the important work of preserving the legacy of seeds that grow well here.  Martineau and Jacobson suggest becoming a “seed steward” by arranging an event, perhaps in one’s neighborhood, to clean and package seeds.  This is an activity that can be enjoyed by friends and family, children, and newcomers to the Pajarito Plateau.  Stay informed on the LACSL Facebook page, and “most all, plant seeds!”

Mark your calendars, as that opportunity will take place in March when Mesa Public Library plans to open the seed library for the community’s spring planting interests.  By all means, “check it out!”

Following the LACSL presentation, Martineau and Jacobson asked Rotarians to Name That Seed, placing a closed container of mystery seeds on each table for Rotarians to identify. Among them were chile pepper and Echinacea.  They also assisted members as they sorted and packed seeds into paper packets with labels for the donor’s name and address, the type of seed, and when and where the seeds were harvested.

These packets will join the hundreds that are already being collected and prepared for the LACSL card file and catalogue.

To learn more about the Los Alamos Community Seed Library, please contact Eva Jacobson, Community Engagement Librarian, 505-663-1812.

After earning a Master’s Degree in Instructional Leadership, Martineau taught elementary and middle school for 18 years and worked as a Science Education Specialist for Los Alamos Nation Laboratory for 12 years.  She has lived here for 35 years, so readers may know her from her previous work with Los Alamos Public Schools or the Bradbury Science Museum.

Martineau was the Executive Director of the Los Alamos Historical Society and is now managing the Los Alamos Ambassador Program.  She enjoys working with community organizations and advocating for life-long education.   She describes herself as a “free-range” educator. 

Eva Jacobson was born and raised in Denmark and came to New Mexico via a winding road from Copenhagen and London, Alaska, and Washington State, and finally Los Alamos!  She is currently the Senior Librarian of Community Engagement at the Los Alamos County Libraries.

She describes herself as “an accidental librarian and library director.”   

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos, through its Club Foundation, is a 501(c)3 non-profit and one of over 34,000 clubs worldwide.  Rotary, which now has 1.5 million members, was founded in 1905; the local Club was chartered in 1966.  Rotary areas of focus include promoting peace; fighting disease, particularly polio; providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; supporting education; saving and enhancing the lives of mothers and children; growing economies; and protecting the environment.

The Rotary Club of Los Alamos meets in person Tuesdays, 12:00-1:00, in the Community Room, Cottonwood on the Greens, at the golf course.  A Zoom option is available by contacting Linda Hull, Rotary Club vice-president, 505-662-7950.  Hull is also happy to provide information about the Club and its humanitarian service.  The community is invited to attend meetings and become members.