Tilling the Tundra, Ready for Spring…


Mar 15, 2010

Victoria heads to Fairbanks today for a couple of interesting workshops.

The trip begins with the 6th Annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference and Organic Growers School.  This two-day workshop from March 17-18 features a variety of presentations about sustainable agriculture from producers, agencies, and researchers around the state.

Sustainable agriculture is an approach to farming that is good for the environment and the community, according to conference organizer Michele Hebert, agriculture and horticulture agent for the UAF Cooperative Extension Service.

In Alaska, as in most of the U.S., there has been a successful initiative to eat locally. Farmers markets are springing up as organically grown produce is being embraced by city dwellers. Restaurants are snapping up Alaska Grown produce.

In rural Alaska, where the high price of fuel has driven up the cost of everything, the price of flown-in fresh produce has motivated people to develop a market for locally grown food sources, too.

Meyers Farm

Tim Meyers is leading the movement in Bethel. His organic farm is a shining example of what is possible when sustainable methods are combined with new techniques and technology to cultivate the tundra.

Welcome to Meyers Farm in Bethel Alaska. Currently we are providing the local community with affordable, fresh and organic produce during the growing season. It is our intention to provide locally grown produce year round for our community in Bethel, and as we grow throughout the rest of Alaska.

Tim will be at this year’s conference and Vic will be reporting on his progress and lots of other interesting facts about cold weather gardening in Alaska.

Gardening is different in the land of the midnight sun. Long sunny days and rich soil support a range of crops but the short growing season makes planning essential. Seeds must be started in greenhouses or on the kitchen windowsill while snow is on the ground.

We all remember Vic’s day-old chicks arriving last spring to feed the summer fishermen.

At the conclusion of the first conference, Vic remains a couple more days for a second subregional conference sponsored by Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (Western SARE) and the USDA.  This more directly focuses on agricultural sustainability throughout the western states, including Alaska.

Another way to explain these two conferences is:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Western SARE (Sustainable Agriculture & Resource Education) sub regional conference will follow the UAF/SNRAS (University of Alaska School of Natural Resources & Agricultural Sciences) sustainable gardening conference. (That’s there purely as a display of the tendency of all agencies in Alaska to offer up a warm bowl of alphabet soup – this one is organic.)

Victoria was invited to this as one of the “100 Key Agricultural Leaders in Alaska”, and we’re waiting anxiously for her report.

Spring is just around the corner.  Anonymous Bloggers will follow Vic the next few months and report on her preparations for spring gardening, for fishing season and all the other insights she brings to us about life in the bush.

Thanks for sharing your life with us, Vic!

~ Elsie & Jane


4 Responses to “Tilling the Tundra, Ready for Spring…”

  1. twain12 Says:

    good luck with it all, sounds wonderful

  2. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Tim Meyers’ business sounds like an outstanding commitment to forging ahead with new ways to supplement a changing life in Bush Alaska. I clicked on his web page and my mouth started to water with the thought of organic veggies provided locally, and I’m so jealous since Juneau gets our organic produce mostly from Washington state.

    I’m glad we have the availability in Juneau, and I support the imported food whenever possible! But, there is no substitute for fresh food which does not need to be harvested early so that it can travel on a plane or barge and hang out for a week or two. The closer and fresher the food, the better it is both in taste and nutrition.

    Since traditional methods of healthy food gathering in rural Alaska are on the decline due to many factors, I’m heartened to see these folks taking on ideas to supplement villages, towns and individuals with some new choices. This is fantastic – go Tim Meyers!

    Now I really look forward to seeing this all come together in Ugashik. Gardener and greenhouse = big time accomplishment!

  3. GreatGranny2C Says:

    I find this whole idea so fascinating and wish the very best luck and success. As an avid life-long gardener, I enjoy hearing of new ideas to try. I had 3 summers in Alaska of growing fantastic and huge produce, and I’ve never come close to anything like it since……dang! Good luck to all and I’m looking forward to further reports.

  4. Princess' Mom Says:

    this is great. alot of land out there. Lots of room to plant. grease up your elbows and get to work : )

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