49 Voices: Janene Driscoll of Gustavus

Janene Driscoll of Gustavus (Photo by Annie Bartholomew, KTOO – Juneau)

This week, we’re hearing from Janene Driscoll in Gustavus. Driscoll was one of the founders of the Gustavus Community Garden.

Listen now

DRISCOLL: Oh the years just pass by. I’m going to guess we started this garden somewhere in the ballpark of ten years ago. Maybe 15. Who know? A long time. (laughs)

We got inspired to start a community garden for two reasons. One is the moose in Gustavus started hammering everyone’s garden. They started eating the peas, the cabbages, the kale, and it was like “wow, we need a fence.” So we’ve got this fenced-in area where there’s about 21 plots inside the fence. The moose fence. And then there’s plots outside the moose fence, and those are particularly for potatoes. And we grow potatoes on one side one year, and then on the opposite side the following year, so we can rotate them a little bit to prevent scab.

What does the best here? Things that like it cool and wet. So basically, your kale and cabbages. Peas grow really well. But so do a lot of the flowers, and so we have a vast amount of little pots that have some of the perennials as well.

Challenges gardening right here, and really just anywhere in Southeast, is that it’s really wet. Soil’s not very fertile. Temperatures stay so cold. And so the ground stays cold. And that’s why a lot of the people here have raised beds to try to warm the soil a little faster. And here at the garden, we have a fair amount of wind. So, you can look around, and it almost looks like there are conestoga wagons here, as we’re putting up the reemay underneath the hoops to prevent the damage from wind.

It’s a friend’s birthday tomorrow and so his wife asked that his friends write haiku to help him celebrate his birthday. I do have some garden haikus. So the first one goes:

The promise of hope,

A simple seed in the ground.

Brocolli for lunch.

The other one, you need to look at my trellis in order to understand, but:

Oh, the joy it is.

Strand of hypogymnia,

On my pea trellis.

Hypogymnia is a type of lichen. And I sometimes harvest harvest lichen to be able to use it to dye fibers. And so lichen plays a certain role in my life, shall we say.

Wesley Early covers Anchorage life and city politics for Alaska Public Media. Reach him at wearly@alaskapublic.org and follow him on X at @wesley_early. Read more about Wesley here.

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