Back to the garden…

by

tomatoes1

Well hopefully I can get back on track a little with updates on all that was learned in Fairbanks. 

Sorry for the disruption but the need to speak out on the Salmon By-Catch issue came up and the chance to lend our voices to the fight could not be missed. 

Overall while in Fairbanks I was struck by the level of commitment of the people who farm in Alaska to wanting to be progressive in what they do. They have tried many things and are determined to keep trying and learning. 

Although the need to import food is great, and I don’t see that changing for some time, it will not be due to lack of farmers and business people working to bring more and better food sources to all of Alaska. 

Bryce Wrigley of Delta Junction presented an interesting project to help find another heating fuel sources for Alaskans that has much promise. Barley can be grown in here, more successfully than other grain crops, and is a pretty mature crop at this point. Growing more of it in the state would strengthen the farmers here without threatening the supply for food or animal feed sources. 

http://www.heatwithbarley.com/FAQ.html 

http://www.frontierfreedom.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=338 

Both links give you more information on the subject. 

There was promising information passed along about the growing of a fruit tree crop either under high tunnels or out in a zone 2. In this case it is apples and Robert Wheeler of CES has been doing work to see if apple trees can be done commercially in Alaska. They had some good successes the first year that show that it is possible with pretty quick return of some crops. 

This is exciting to me; especially for this area as we are a 4/5 zone and most likely can adapt things. If you have worked with orchard fruits much you are aware it can be a 5-10 year cycle before you get something that will return a crop. 

I am on the notification list for this work and will be looking to see how the second year goes and if the varieties will be made available soon. 

One young lady, Allie Barker, of Chickaloon Sustainable Homestead, shared with us her and her partner’s establishment of their homestead. They had settled in a wooded area of Alaska, Chickaloon, and were slowly and with much care clearing part of their land and making a life for themselves.

First building a basic house, making sure to face it correctly for as much passive solar as possible.  They then built a solar panel up on a high tower as they are somewhat in the shadow of a mountain, also cold frames and a greenhouse. 

I have to tell you that looking at all that wood, a small self-run sawmill, and located out here somewhere close to most of us and we would be in HEAVEN!!! Trees are just not part of the landscape this far down on the Alaska Peninsula and many other parts of Western Alaska. It isn’t just permafrost, which we really do not have here, but other factors like wind and soil.

 It was fun to see all their projects, how they are working to live as much off their land as possible and contribute to the area and people around them. No one can say that there are not hard working young people who are out to make a difference. There seems to still be plenty of that here in Alaska. 

There was a lot of general information on direct marketing and weed suppression. Both of these areas are of little concern right now for us but hopefully things will get successful enough soon to be of an issue in the near future. 

When I look over what is still left to present I can’t combine them with this post so it will be short. 

Composing
High tunnels
Tim Meyer and his entire set up 

The three main areas I still want to share so stay tuned.

Victoria’s first report is in her garden journal.

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