agriculture

When you think of the value of farmers markets, what likely comes to mind is fresh, local produce, where you can meet the people who grew it just down the road from where it’s sold.

And, sure, it’s commerce, so there’s money involved. But shoppers might not be thinking about everything they’re supporting when they buy that zucchini or jar of jam.

In honor of Aug. 4 through 10 being national Farmers Market Week, let’s take a look at the economics of farmers markets.

Join this month's Kenai Garden Talk to celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day, get a jump on local foods with a look at some spring harvestables and hear about an initiative to offer more agriculture opportunities in the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

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Wild plant guides:

 

It was Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday. Since 2007, the first Tuesday in May has been set aside to shine a light on the slowly, but steadily growing ag industry in the state.

 

 


Just when you thought it might be time to risk moving plants outdoors, freezing temperatures and even some snow flurries returned to prove that you can’t rush spring in Alaska.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t play in the dirt this time of year. This is prime seed-starting season. In this month's Kenai Garden Talk, we’ve got wisdom from veteran gardeners about how to start seeds efficiently and cost-effectively. After that, we’ll visit an asparagus farm down in Homer, proving that even persnickety crops can be successful on the peninsula with the right knowledge and care.

 

Alaska has a long history of agriculture, but it’s always lingered in the background behind fishing and more recently, oil and gas as a mainstay in the economy. The governor’s proposed budget includes numerous cuts that would affect agriculture across the state and could even make some parts of the ag economy go away altogether.

 

 


The roughly 5.7 million acres that make up the Kenai Peninsula get used for a lot of different activities including, increasingly, agriculture. The Kenai Peninsula Borough is rolling out an initiative this spring in an effort to get a few more of those acres dedicated to a sustainable ag system that will, among other things, help further diversify the local economy. This week, we're speaking with Marcus Mueller, KPB Land Manager and Heidi Chay, District Manager for the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District, about the ag initiative and broader policy goals and considerations that go with it.


Jenny Neyman/KDLL

On the calendar, spring officially begins March 21. In reality, we’ve got a while yet before anyone in southcentral Alaska is digging in the dirt, but that doesn’t stop intrepid growers from getting started.

On March 2, the Central Peninsula Garden Club had its annual get-ready-for-spring roundtables event at Peninsula Grace Brethren Church on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, and a new opportunity for year-round greens has sprouted up in Soldotna.

Courtesy of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District

Saturday’s Harvest Moon Local Food Festival at Soldotna Creek Park fed on the area’s growing interest in eating locally.

“A lot of folks turned out. We’ve got a beautiful day, blue skies and lots of vendors, and it’s pretty lively,” said Heidi Chay, manager of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District and one of the organizers of the festival, which served as the culmination of a week of events celebrating local foods.

Jenny Neyman/KDLL

Dave Ianson thinks rhubarb could be the next big thing in Alaska agriculture, if only growers would show it a little love.

And if you're thinking about raising dairy goats, make sure you plan ahead so your experience doesn't turn sour.

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Karluk Acres, Julie Wendt and& Paul Vass:

Phone: 907-252-3980

Website: www.karlukacres.com

Facebook: Karluk Acres

Courtest USDA

There’s an experiment growing in the borough’s gravel pit in Cooper Landing and it’s ready for harvest.

“There was a project about two years ago that result in an area being reclaimed. And so we had this nice, flat surface that was freshly top-soiled, and we’re looking at what to do with it in the long term. And for a temporary measure, we did some barley trials,” said Marcus Meuller, land management officer for the Kenai Peninsula Borough.

Meuller said the department has been working toward an agriculture initiative to find ways to use borough land to make agriculture more available for residents, and the barley experiment fits right in.