Feb 18, 2011
Although there is snow on the ground in most places in Alaska, as there also seems to be in many places throughout the US, many of us are thinking of spring.
The fishing gear flyers, seed catalogs, and the never ending paperwork for a fish oriented business are arriving with each load of mail.
We struggle between all these items pulling us into the spring and the desire to go ice fishing, planning for winter carnivals, and in some villages, potlatches.
The first forecasts for summer fish runs are out in many areas causing fishermen to pour over them for what is expected, the age/size of the fish they calling for. This information is used to order the fishing nets. Those fishermen who are targeting certain sized fish use this to order certain sized nets. Despite what many might think there is a fair amount of knowledge that goes into being a successful fisherman.
Any decisions about whether you want to order baby chicks, baby turkeys or maybe a piglet need to be made in the next few weeks unless you want to be raising SUMMER or fall animals! Each spring this household goes through the ‘should we?’ and ‘if we ….’ until our brains are exhausted. Should we finally decide to try raising a few turkeys? (I have to say THIS might well be the year for that “What if…” to finally happen!) If we do, where or how do we mix that with our current flock or any other baby chicks we decide to do?
Recently a state newsletter on agriculture issues came out. In it was the news that ‘hundreds’ of high tunnels are going up in Alaska under the new USDA program. This is so encouraging. Maybe Alaska can slowly get healthier and better food choices into the hands of the residents. To back that up it was mentioned in a conference call this week that the Kenai Peninsula alone has applied for over 80 more high tunnels to join the 50 or so that are already there.
In this little corner of Alaska our plans are being drawn out for planting times, varieties we want to try, fruit plants orders and all sorts of issues. The discussion of how to get water to things and monitor it when we are swamped with fishing activities has been spirited. How do we staff this bigger operation this year or do we see how it goes by stretching ourselves still thinner? What equipment is essential and what can wait? All questions that many business or operations face in these times.
Over the last 3-5 years it has been refreshing to see real efforts by many portions of our state at attempting to answer the questions of where our food is coming from, what happens if that supply line is disrupted, and how can we promote more locally grown food and healthier eating.
In so many ways Alaska has the ability to lead the way in industries but I sure seem to find we are doing a quick race to catch up to things that seem to be decades old. I have my own theories as to why but in the area of agriculture I see some very dedicated people sweeping past those barriers and bringing at least parts of Alaska into a healthier new time. Hopefully everyone will see the need and support the most basic of needs-getting food to those who need it and make it healthier for everyone!