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Our Town – May 9, 2013

| Crazy Theories, Gardening, Guest Written, Mary Ann Jones, Our Town | May 9, 2013

The Soupster discovers sometimes you already have just what you need.

It seemed to Chauncey that almost everyone in Our Town had an opinion about The Giant Greenhouse Project. He thought local officials had provided more than enough information over the last few years to make sure the community was well-informed. After all, this was the largest construction project in the town’s history and, while the greenhouse had its detractors, most folks agreed that it was necessary. So, why were a few still not convinced that it was worth whatever it would take? Chauncey shook his head.

The problem was that there simply wasn’t an adequate supply of coffee in town. Storage levels were constantly running low, even with weekly shipments flown in from the lower 48, and the cost and environmental impact were enormous. Didn’t people understand the difficulties of maintaining a sustainable drink like that on a remote island that was too cold and wet to grow beans?

Chauncey was the first to admit that The Giant Greenhouse was an ambitious undertaking. Decades earlier, the town’s leaders had established a small coffee plantation in the mountains. They had hoped to capitalize on the “mountain-grown” slogan and export beans around the world, but, unfortunately, a large corporation used that marketing strategy first. Try as the town did to make a go of it, the poor coffee trees failed to produce more than a meager crop.

Chauncey recalled the excitement when a volunteer community work group came up with the idea of building a giant greenhouse to protect the coffee trees from inclement weather. The group met tirelessly for a year to design the concept and then put together a presentation that received unanimous support from elected officials. Town engineers sprang into action and hired a consulting firm that submitted a report confirming the feasibility of the project. By that time, the shortage had become more critical and local coffee drinkers were experiencing soaring prices and periodic shortages – or rolling blackouts, as they were called.

Now, three years later, after even more studies, designs and contract awards, construction had finally begun on the greenhouse. The excitement in town was contagious – Chauncey decided to go see for himself how the greenhouse was coming. On his bike ride out there, he spotted the Soupster who was sitting on a bench at Whale Park, drinking from a coffee cup. Chauncey pulled into the parking lot and paused. “I see you’re having your morning coffee.”

“Oh, this isn’t coffee”, the Soupster said. “It’s alder tea. Would you like a cup?”

“Alder tea…I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Chauncey said, as he took the drink from the Soupster and sipped it slowly.

“Good lord!” he shouted. It’s delicious! It tastes just like coffee!”

“I know,” the Soupster said with a broad grin, “and all you have to do to make it is boil seawater and alder tree shavings together. Guess we’re not going to run out of those two ingredients any time soon!”

Submitted by Mary Ann Jones

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Would you like to create an Our Town?

The Sitka Soup would welcome an infusion of “new blood.” You may tell your story in words (450-500 of them), or as a graphic “cartoon” strip. We would even consider a short original photo essay with B&W photos. Your Our Town must be closely connected with the life of Sitkans, and the Soupster must make an appearance, even if it’s a brief one.

If we run your Our Town, we’ll pay you $50. To submit: Email your creation to shop@sitkasoup.com and put “Our Town” in the Subject line. Or call: 747-7595.

What is Our Town?

Our Town is a bi-weekly column that tracks the life of the Soupster and his friends and neighbors.

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

The first Our Town was published December 22, 1999.

Read Our Towns published before February 2009 HERE.

Who is the Soupster?

The Soupster is a long-time resident of Our Town who seems to have all the time in the world to traipse around, visit friends and neighbors and get into minor scrapes.

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