• Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference to take place Feb. 27-March 1 in Petersburg

FarragutFarmFields

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.

FarragutFarmProduceStandatIngas“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.”

FarragutFarmMarjaInGreenhouseIt’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:

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 farragutfarm@gmail.com.

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.

• 2015 Southeast Alaska Commercial Growers Conference Agenda

• Map of Petersburg

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• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center committee to present project update to Sitka Parks and Rec Committee

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Community Greenhouse Turn Around_Page_2Are you interested in seeing year-round produce and flower production in Sitka? The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center ad-hoc committee will give a project update to the City and Borough of Sitka Parks and Recreation Committee at noon on Thursday, May 1, at the Harrigan Centennial Hall Exhibit Room.

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center idea started off as a project from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit, but problems acquiring land kept the center from advancing much beyond the concept stage. In recent months, the project gained some new momentum when city officials suggested using land at the city’s Turnaround Park (the old amphibious plane turnaround near the corner of Halibut Point Road and Katlian Street, where the Sitka Skatepark and Sitka Trail Works office are located).

The current proposal is to build a 25-foot-diameter geodesic dome in the middle of the site’s current parking lot. As the project grows, the plan is to build a 90-foot-diameter geodesic dome in the center (the smaller geodesic dome will be moved to another location), with two conventional greenhouses along the ridge by Katlian Street and by the guardrail by the Sitka Trail Works building. There also are plans for some garden landscaping around the site to help clean it up and make it a more attractive place to visit. The greenhouse project will not impede the use of the Sitka Skatepark.

The slideshow below includes several concept drawings by James Patterson. These plans are subject to change, but they help give people an idea of where the project stands right now. Another option is to start off with a high tunnel greenhouse and build around it.

Sitka residents are encouraged to attend the meeting Thursday to show their support for the project. “If we don’t make it through this committee meeting it be ‘back to the drawing board,'” project coordinator Kerry MacLane said. “Your appearance for even a few minutes from 12:10 12:30 p.m. would mean a lot.”

The project was presented to the Sitka Historic Preservation Commission in mid April (the Sitka Turnaround Park is a historic site). If the greenhouse concept is approved by the Parks and Rec Committee on Thursday, it then will be presented to the Sitka Planning Commission on May 6. After that, the proposal will go to the Sitka Assembly to approve a lease to use the property.

Linked below are some concept points and a response to some questions by Parks and Rec’s partner, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 747-7888.

• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center proposal bullet points

• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center response to DNR questions

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