Alaska IS Growing… More of Our Own Food!!

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Tomatoes grown in Bristol Bay

Gardening or farming in Bristol Bay seems to be taking off again with gusto! If you ask around  you find   almost everyone gardened until relatively recently. Many things point to the high salmon prices of the 80’s as the main mover but sometime, somehow, the desire and then the skill went away.

 Growing your own food has taken off again for a variety of reasons, amongst them high cost  and generally low  quality of produce which has to be shipped in,  coupled with lots of new ideas about how-to-grow from the lower 48 figure prominently.

A variety of projects are assisting the effort from grants to help pay for high tunnels, to a ‘growers school’, to tours and cooking classes. In Dillingham, for the second year, a Gardening Symposium will be held later this week. Everything from canning to helping figure out what ails your plants will be covered.

All summer all over Alaska many have been taking part in Alaska Growers School in variety of ways. From study at your own pace, conference calls , and  webinars people have been learning the basics of gardening from botany to how-to specifics for growing in the various part of Alaska. The first group of students then gathered in Fairbanks for some hands-on skill building. Over 40 of us from 26 different villages, a number in the Bristol Bay area, ended up with a wealth of knowledge backed up by great handouts and links to keep us going.

Ugashik's Community Greenhouse

Some villages, like Igiugig, have community greenhouses and outside garden plots to help residents get into the mood to grow more of their own food. Some residents and villages have those who grow for personal use but some are also looking at supplying near-by lodges with produce.

Learning about venting! This is easy to do in Alaska in early spring!

In touring and talking to a number of participants it’s obvious there is a learning curve. Many community operations are ‘staffed’ by volunteers and a number of issues have arisen, from learning how quickly the houses can warm up in the spring,  easily over 100 degrees as early as May, to the onset of gray mold or botrytis in those with circulation issues.  Hopefully, as these issues have come up, they are identified and solutions have been worked out so the efforts of many can be built upon.

In the past, weeds and the spreading of those darn things, has caused some villagers to give up after a few years of trying but hopefully as more people learn how to deal with these issues they will give producing their own food a try again.

Locally grown strawberries

Everyone should be able to enjoy a fresh bowl of greens, berries or veggies from their backyards if they so desire.
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3 Responses to “Alaska IS Growing… More of Our Own Food!!”

  1. alaskapi Says:

    Vic- I had to laugh. I don’t know how you get all you get done, done but THAT’s the secret I want you to share.
    :-)
    Grower’s School on top of growing and fishing and… !!!

    I’m way behind on notes in my garden journal about what worked and what didn’t this year. I’m behind on catching up here :

    http://www.uaf.edu/ces/gardening/

    Doing ok with the actual garden though and have planted a fall round of greens with hopes that using Eliot Coleman’s ideas I can extend my season for fresh goodies on this end of the year as well as I was able to in the spring.
    Have to say though, it feels mighty odd to plant anything in September!

  2. elsie09 Says:

    I live in Texas and do not garden, but when I read about Alaska gardening, I get interested. Weird, huh? I guess it’s just all that interest expressed for gardening by the Ugavic and alaskapi green thumb enthusiasts!

  3. ugavic Says:

    I was thrilled to hear the next installment of the Grower’s School starts this week for the first group, with other groups following close behind I am sure. Somewhere in my fall schedule I will have to find time to partake!!
    My fall greens are in, let’s hope that book of Coleman’s has sunk in enough for me to be successful!
    My gardening notes, although thought to be pretty good, must have been only in what I dreamt about at night. When trying to find some information I was SURE I had recorded it was nowhere to be found.
    Overall I could not be more thrilled to the interest in gardening/producing food growing in this area. Now if we can just get a ‘Farm to School’ program going locally!
    Glad we get you interested in gardening elsie :-)) I have to think the farmer’s markets in your part of the country are fantastic!!

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