Port Townsend Community Read book selection combines farming, activism
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Port Townsend Librarian Cris Wilson adjusts the display promoting this year’s Community Read with Atina Diffley’s Turn Here Sweet Corn. — Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The topic of the book selection for this year’s Community Read, Turn Here Sweet Corn, resonates through the entire region.

For the ninth year, the Port Townsend Library is sponsoring the monthlong Community Read 2014, which encourages everyone in town to share a common literary experience.

Turn Here Sweet Corn by Atina Diffley is a memoir about how a small organic farm fought a corporation that sought to place a crude-oil pipeline through it.

Since many in the area are oriented toward the growth and consumption of organic food, the book’s theme is a perfect fit, according to Community Read sponsors.

“Every year, we try to find a portion of the community that we want to bring into the library family and help them to understand what the library can do for them,” said Cris Wilson, the adult services librarian.

“We felt this book will be perfect as it can draw in a lot of the younger farmers here who are growing their own food.”

The month’s activities — all offered to the public free of charge — lead up to a discussion of the book led by Diffley at 7 p.m. March 27 in the Port Townsend High School auditorium, 1500 Van Ness St.

“This will be a great event,” Wilson said.

“She is an outstanding speaker. She is touring the country giving presentations on organic farming, and she is familiar with this area and knows many people here.”

A Minnesota resident, Diffley is a farmer, educator and activist.

She and her husband owned and operated Gardens of Eagan, one of the first certified-organic produce farms in the Midwest.

She serves on the board of the Minnesota Institute of Sustainable Agriculture as its secretary/treasurer and is vice president of the Organic Seed Alliance, which is based in Port Townsend.

The Community Read includes discussion groups, seminars and presentations.

The next presentation will be at 6:30 p.m. today at the Library Learning Center, 1256 Lawrence St.

Organic Seed Alliance board member John Navazio will discuss how to grow food locally using seed developed for the region and will provide practical advice about growing, harvesting and processing specialty vegetable crops.

Four discussion groups are scheduled. They are:

■   5 p.m. Tuesday at Pippa’s Real Tea, 636 Water St.

■   6 p.m. March 13 at the Pourhouse, 2231 Washington St.

■   7 p.m. March 20 at the Hilltop Tavern, 2510 W. Sims Way.

■   3 p.m. March 25 in the dining area of the Food Co-op, 414 Kearney St.

Other events are:

■   An art show talk with Michael Paul Miller at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Northwind Arts Center, 2409 Jefferson St.

■   A showing of the PBS documentary film “Turn Here Sweet Corn” that was made about the book at noon March 16 at the Rose Theatre, 235 Taylor St.

■   A class on cooking with organic produce at 5 p.m. March 17 at Sweet Laurette Cafe, 1029 Lawrence St. Reservations are required and available by calling 360-385-4866.

■   A discussion of the book from a writer’s perspective at 6:30 p.m. March 24 at the Library Learning Center.

The final event is a potluck and corn dance from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 28 in the Quimper Grange Hall, 1219 Corona St., featuring an impromptu group of musicians, Martin Diffley and the Pheromones, led by Diffley’s husband.

The funding for the Community Read comes from a grant from Humanities Washington with additional support from the Friends of the Port Townsend Library, the Port Townsend Food Co-op, Jefferson County Farmers Markets, Sweet Laurette Cafe, Red Dog Farm, KPTZ radio, Port Townsend School District, Key City Public Theatre and Rose Theatre.

A production of “PT Shorts” tied to the Community Read took place March 1 as part of the monthly gallery walk, including readings from Turn Here Sweet Corn by local farmers.

Over the next few weeks, KPTZ-91.9 FM will broadcast short readings from the book as well as excerpts from interviews with Diffley.

Wilson said each Community Read involves from 1,000 to 1,500 people but that the exact number is hard to determine.

“We can tell you how many books we circulate, sell or give away, but we can’t calculate how many people read the book and pass it along,” she said.

The library is giving away 100 copies of the book, which is also for sale; additionally, there are 33 copies in circulation.

After the program ends, all but one of the books will be sold for $1 at the next Friends of the Library book sale.

“We’ll keep one for our collection,” Wilson said.

“We don’t have the room to keep a lot of them around, and by the time we’re finished, everyone who’s interested has already read it.”

For more information, phone 360-385-3181 or visit http://tinyurl.com/PDN-Reading.


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 04. 2014 7:17PM
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