The Hampton Bays-based ecological group Ecological Culture Initiative, founded last year, has big plans for 2017, starting this coming Wednesday, March 8 with the unveiling of a new seed library at the Hampton Bays Library.

ECI, a non-profit organization founded by former Stony Brook University ecology and design professor Dr. Marc Fasanella, aims to “foster an ecology-based evolution of the local community through advocacy, education, and practical assistance and restore the best practices of the past and advance the most regenerative design principles of our time,” according to their vision statement.

Wednesday’s program at the Hampton Bays Library at 52 Ponquogue Avenue opens at 6:30 p.m. with the unveiling of the seed library, where community members can get free organic seeds at the beginning of the growing season, and then return seeds from the crops they’ve grown at the end of the season.

The seed library will be housed in a vintage card catalogue in the adult reference section of the library, and is intended “to develop a network of community-based seed savers who create locally adapted plant varieties, increase biodiversity, and mitigate the loss of plant gene integrity due to the genetic engineering of commercially produced seeds and plants.”

The unveiling will be followed by a presentation titled “Restoring Good Ground: Sowing the Seeds of Change” at 7 p.m., a discussion of ways to “preserve the components of the community we value and advance the interests of the community in a sustainable way and to build an economy based in ecological education and tourism, historic character, small-farms and marsh-fronted healthy waterways.”

Dr. Fasanella presented some of the group’s goals to the Southampton Town Board at their March 2 work session, including a proposal to use buildings at Squiretown Park as a residential campus for a semester-long permaculture design certificate program in conjunction with Long Island University.

Permaculture is the process of growing food within the existing ecological community, letting the natural design of the ecosystem determine the growth of food for humans.

“It’s food that makes the best use of the ecosystem,” Dr. Fasanella told the town board. “We’re not doing that on the East End.”

ECI is launching an organic gardening certificate program beginning March 31 through the town’s recreation department. More details on that program are online here.

ECI is also hosting an organic Farm-to-Table Spring Equinox Dinner on March 20 at 6:30 pm at Nurel’s Farmers’ Market at 226 E Montauk Hwy, Hampton Bays. The dinner will be catered by Chef Ellen Greaves. Tickets are $25 and only 25 ticket will be sold, online here.

The group is also planning an encore screening of “Seed: The Untold Story,” first screened by ECI in January, on Tuesday, April 18 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the UA Hampton Bays Movie Theater, preceded by an Organic Farm-to-Table Dinner at 5 p.m. at Orlando’s Café on Main Street in Hampton Bays. More details are online here.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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