Bo Varsano and Marja Smets of Farragut Farm in Petersburg will host the inaugural Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference from Feb. 27 through March 1 in Petersburg. This conference is made possible by the USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Petersburg Economic Development Council.
“The Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference is an opportunity for the commercial vegetable and flower producers of Southeast Alaska to get together and exchange ideas and techniques, with the purpose of improving and expanding local agricultural production,” Bo Varsano said. “Commercial agriculture in Southeast Alaska is still minimal, but is rapidly expanding with new growers starting up every year. While there are many uniquely specific challenges to growing in our region, few fully developed and publicized strategies currently exist for the new grower to follow. In light of this, gathering with other growers to share our experiences and ideas may be the best way to aid the growing agricultural movement in Southeast Alaska.”
It’s not too late to sign up to participate, so please take a look and let us know if you have any questions or if you are interested in joining the fun. If the travel and lodging costs are dissuading you from participating, please remember that we can arrange a home-stay for anyone (contact us by Jan. 18 to arrange home-stays) and we still have one travel stipend ($200) to hand out to someone in need.
A few things to consider:
- This conference is open to commercial farmers, aspiring farmers, as well as anyone in the general public who is interested in the local agriculture industry.
- Participants are responsible for their own breakfasts and lunches.
- Friday’s dinner will be prepared by KFSK, our local radio station. This meal is a fundraising event for the station, and a suggested donation will be requested.
- Saturday’s dinner will be a communal dinner, jointly prepared for and shared by all conference participants at the venue.
- There is no fee to attend, however, we will be asking for a minimal donation from each participant to cover the cost of venue rental and Saturday evening’s dinner.
Several regional farmers and industry specialists have volunteered to give presentations relevant to the issues and challenges faced by Southeast Alaska growers. The following topics will be addressed:
- “Growing Cut Flowers in Southeast Alaska”— Deb Hurley and Craig Olson (Flower Farm, Petersburg)
- “The U-pick Model” — Lori Adams (Down to Earth U-Pick Garden, Sitka)
- “Produce Retail Tips: Presentation, Pricing and Timing” — Katherine Ivy (Ivy Patch Produce, Wrangell)
- “My High Tunnel Odyssey: Lessons learned assembling a NRCS high tunnel” — Joe Orsi (Orsi Organic Produce, Juneau)
- “Homemade Farm Tools” — Bo Varsano (Farragut Farm, Farragut Bay)
- “Tips for Farm Organization and Recordkeeping” — Marja Smets (Farragut Farm, Farragut Bay)
- “Alaska Certified Seed Potatoes,” “Making Money with Primroses and Other Hardy Perennials,” “Fruits and Berries for Southeast Alaska” — Ed Buyarski (Ed’s Edible Landscaping, Juneau)
- “Alaska Division of Agriculture Marketing Program Update” — Amy Pettit (Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Division of Agriculture, Palmer)
- “USDA High Tunnel Grant Program” — Samia Savell (USDA National Resources Conservation Service, Juneau)
- “Resources for Southeast Alaska Growers” — Darren Snyder (UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Juneau)
We will begin the conference with a brief “show and tell” session. All conference participants will be asked to give a short (under 10 minutes) introduction including a description of their farm, their farming aspirations, or their involvement in the farming industry.
We especially encourage sharing photos of your operation. If you choose to do so, please bring those photos on a memory stick in JPEG format (in the largest original format). That is the ONLY photo format that we can guarantee will work with our computer.
We hope to see you all in February, and again, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions. The best way to reach us is by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please print up the attached documents (which include a conference agenda and a map of Petersburg showing the locations for the conference) and bring them with you when you come.