Alaska Inter-library Cooperation Grant, Garden Renovation 2017 – 2018

Thorne Bay public library, with adjacent garden plot (left), 2016

“The VISTA will improve library capacity and sustainability by seeking grant writing opportunities for the library.”

VISTA assignment description

One aspect of my service as an outreach coordinator for Thorne Bay’s public library was to increase organizational capacity through fundraising. Together with community stakeholders, I determined one of the best actions of my service would be to write a grant to fund the renovation of the library’s garden space. Below are some key reasons for this project proposal.

  • The garden plot was unused, given the plot was unprotected and vulnerable to deer and other local wildlife that would consume any plants growing there.
  • The project was highly desirable among community members in order to render the space usable for children’s summer library programming, where they could learn about gardening and grow healthy foods to supplement their diets.
  • The community faced and still faces food insecurity due to Thorne Bay’s remote location, inadequate access to amenities and conveniences found elsewhere, and reliance on goods shipped from the southern United States – fresh foods shipped to Alaska are expensive and oftentimes arrive less “fresh” or even spoiled.

“Many families in Thorne Bay attempt to eat healthy and model good diets for their children; those who have space and sufficient funds make their own gardens and greenhouses and/or choose healthier food options at the market. However, this is not the case for much of the community.

grant proposal, statement of need

Through community outreach, I updated assessments made by the VISTA volunteer that came before me. Using these assessments, I drafted a grant proposal, seeking funds from the Alaska State Library. The proposal requested $2,300 in grant funding and purported the following outcomes:

  • Having an updated garden space to be used over time by the children of the community
  • Enhanced programming and sustainability at the library
  • Whole and healthy foods to be consumed as nourishment or for education at the library
  • Reduced program expenditures
  • A beautified space outside the library
  • Revived garden use
  • Further institutional capacity and greater lifelong learning opportunities among garden participants

The Inter-library Cooperation grant was awarded to Thorne Bay public library in May 2017, just after my year of VISTA service concluded. Funding awarded totaled $2,000 and went to supplementing the expenses of purchasing materials and constructing the new garden space, pictured above.

Since I concluded my service before the grant was awarded, I prepared notes for my successor, Ashley Richardson, to utilize for planning and executing the proposed renovation. Renovating the garden space took a couple of tries but was successfully constructed thanks to the leadership of Richardson and dedicated community volunteers, who donated time and resources to ensure the garden would be made usable. As the above photos indicate, the garden space progressed from squalid conditions to becoming a revitalized, beautiful and functional space. Of course, the project could not have succeeded without leadership, community involvement and appropriate funds to support the renovation.