Celebrate local farmers and gardeners on Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 1

Alaskans will celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 1. On this day, Alaskans are encouraged to support local agriculture by seeking out and purchasing products produced in Alaska and educating youth about the vital role that agriculture plays in our economy. This is Alaska’s version of National Ag Day (which took place on March 20 this year, when many parts of Alaska were still thawing out).

Here are a few ideas from the Division of Agriculture on how to celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day:

In Sitka, you can celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day by starting a food garden (even a couple of containers on your deck can provide you with potatoes, carrots or greens). Teachers are encouraged to offer a lesson plan or two about the importance of agriculture in Alaska and in Sitka. Here’s a linkto an article about how Sitka was Alaska’s original garden city back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Also, the Sitka History Minute feature on KCAW-Raven Radio has had several episodes about agriculture in Sitka (click here to listen to a feature about the potato in Sitka, click here to listen to a feature about the Sitka Agricultural Station, and click here to listen to a feature about the cows of Iris Meadows).

During the growing season, please support the Sitka farmers and production gardeners listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book(chief contact in parentheses) — Anam Cara Family Garden (Lisa Sadleir-Hart), Blatchley Community Gardens (David Nuetzel, this garden closed in 2016 and there is a group seeking a new location for what will be called Sitka Community Gardens, but its 2018 status is unknown), Down To Earth U-Pick Garden (Lori Adams, switched to a CSA in 2017 and no longer is a public u-pick garden), Finn Island Farm (Keith Nyitray, this farm closed), Sprucecot Gardens (Judy Johnstone), and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (Laura Schmidt/Sitka Local Foods Network). There also are a few Sitka farms and production gardens not listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book, such as Beyond Leafy LLC (Jimmy and Leslie Kranz), Middle Island Gardens (Andrea Fraga/Kaleb Aldred), and Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Garden (Florence Welsh).

Many of these farms and gardens will be vendors during the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on seven Saturdays — July 7, July 21, Aug. 4, Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 1, and Sept 15 — at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). There will be a Sitka Farmers Market vendor meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, May 17, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street) where rules and responsibilities will be discussed.

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Celebrate local farmers and gardeners on Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 2

Alaskans will celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day on Tuesday, May 2. On this day, Alaskans are encouraged to support local agriculture by seeking out and purchasing products produced in Alaska and educating youth about the vital role that agriculture plays in our economy. This is Alaska’s version of National Ag Day (which took place on March 21 this year, when many parts of Alaska were still thawing out).

Here are a few ideas from the Division of Agriculture on how to celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day:

In Sitka, you can celebrate Alaska Agriculture Day by starting a food garden (even a couple of containers on your deck can provide you with potatoes, carrots or greens). Teachers are encouraged to offer a lesson plan or two about the importance of agriculture in Alaska and in Sitka. Here’s a link to an article about how Sitka was Alaska’s original garden city back in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Also, the Sitka History Minute feature on KCAW-Raven Radio has had several episodes about agriculture in Sitka (click here to listen to a feature about the potato in Sitka, click here to listen to a feature about the Sitka Agricultural Station, and click here to listen to a feature about the cows of Iris Meadows).

During the growing season, please support the Sitka farmers and production gardeners listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book (chief contact in parentheses) — Anam Cara Family Garden (Lisa Sadleir-Hart), Blatchley Community Gardens (David Nuetzel, this garden closed in 2016 and there is a group seeking a new location for what will be called Sitka Community Gardens), Down To Earth U-Pick Garden (Lori Adams, switched to a CSA in 2017 and no longer is a public u-pick garden), Finn Island Farm (Keith Nyitray), Sprucecot Gardens (Judy Johnstone), and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (Laura Schmidt/Sitka Local Foods Network). There also are a few Sitka farms and production gardens not listed in the 2016-17 Alaska Grown Source Book, such as Humpback Farm (Peter Williams), Middle Island Organic Produce (Andrea Fraga/Kaleb Aldred), Sea View Garden (Linda Wilson), The Sawmill Farm (Bobbi Daniels), Sitka Seedling Farms (Matthew Jackson) and Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Garden(Florence Welsh).

Many of these farms and gardens will be vendors during the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays, July 1, July 15, July 29, Aug. 12, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, and Sept 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.).

• Alaska Farm Bureau wonders if it’s time to create a Southeast Farm Bureau chapter

(from the Alaska Farm Bureau)

There will be a teleconference at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, to discuss whether there is interest from Southeast gardeners, greenhouse operators, farmers, ranchers and mariculture growers in forming a new Southeast Chapter of the Alaska Farm Bureau.

The Alaska Farm Bureau is the largest agricultural organization in the state and currently has six chapters:  Fairbanks, Delta, Mat-Su, Kodiak, Kenai Peninsula and the Copper River Valley.  Those who live in the Southeast are currently members of the Mat-Su Chapter.

Farm Bureau membership benefits include a subscription to the Alaska Farm and Ranch News, (Alaska’s only monthly agricultural newspaper), discounts at Grainger and Office Products, (both offering free shipping to Alaska for on-line orders); full service banking at Farm Bureau bank, farm policy insurance as well as all their other services from COUNTRY Financial, a prescription drug discount program for you and your employees and a $500 discount on GMC, Chevrolet and Buick new vehicle purchases.

To participate, call 1-800-528-2793.  Enter the conference ID of 7807353 and press # at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27.  There is no charge to participate.

If you are not able to participate that evening, please send an e-mail to Alaska Farm Bureau Executive Director Jane Hamilton at janehamilton99737@yahoo.com or mail a note expressing your interest to the Alaska Farm Bureau at PO Box 760, Delta Junction, AK 99737.  Please include your name and contact information — mailing address, e-mail addresses and telephone number.

People who are not actively growing agricultural or mariculture products may join the Farm Bureau as Associate Members.  Associate Members pay the same $40 annual membership fee and receive all of the same membership benefits.  While they may join in discussions during chapter meetings, they do not have voting privileges.  Their membership supports their local chapter as well as the state association.  Any individual person or business is welcome to become an Associate Member.

If there is an interest, potential SE members will select a one person to represent them at the Alaska Farm Bureau Board of Director’s meeting that will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Anchorage on Nov. 8.  The Friday Forum (conference day of agricultural speakers), Awards Banquet and Scholarship Auction will be held on Nov. 9 and the Annual Meeting will be held on Nov. 10.

The Board of Directors will pay travel expenses for your representative to attend the three-day event.  The Board of Directors will decide whether there is enough interest to form a Southeast Chapter at their Nov. 8 business meeting.