UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host a hybrid Alaska Master Gardener class for Southeast Alaska communities

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service this spring will offer a “hybrid” Alaska Master Gardener course to every community in Southeast Alaska.

This class will be taught by Southeast Alaska’s Cooperative Extension agriculture and horticulture agent, Darren Snyder (based in Juneau), along with other state and local experts. They will provide in-depth training for experienced Alaska gardeners on a wide range of topics on how to design, plant and maintain successful gardens in Southeast Alaska’s cool, wet, northwest coastal conditions.

The class takes place from 6-8:30 p.m. on Monday evenings, Feb. 21 to May 9. In addition, there will be two Saturday classes (dates TBD).

In addition to participating in the course, Master Gardener trainees agree, and will be provided opportunities, to share your skills with the community through various service projects and other means.

What makes this class a hybrid? This course will be delivered by engaging and accessible means in a combination of: synchronous (live) and asynchronous (watch recording) videoconferenced sessions, self-paced readings and resources accessed through shared drives, online interaction through blogs and other electronic formats, plus face-to-face, in-person, workshops and activities.*

Why the * asterisk * regarding face-to-face? 

We are forming community hubs with Master Gardener Liaison point people in communities to be our “eyes on the ground” to help to organize, host, arrange and generally make good gardening happen in your community in Southeast Alaska. In order to have guaranteed face to face opportunities, a Master Gardener Liaison will need to be established in your community. Are you that person? If not, do you know who it can be? Please let Darren know.

The registration fee is $300, which includes a deposit of $150 to be refunded — plus an additional $50 refund from the Southeast Master Gardener Association — when 40 hours of volunteer service are completed within a year. (Note, contact Charles Bingham of the Sitka Local Foods Network, 623-7660, if you’re interested in teaching free gardening classes in Sitka as part of your volunteer service.) A fee reduction/waiver available, as needed, by contacting The service goal is to share your gardening skills and knowledge through educational community projects. The fee includes an electronic version of the Alaska Master Gardener manual. Registration and more information available at

Please make any accommodation requests related to a disability seven business days in advance. For this or any further questions, contact Darren Snyder at

UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host online Master Gardener class for Sitka

The Sitka Master Gardener training— originally scheduled to start on Wednesday, March 25, and then postponed due to coronavirus precautions — will become distance-delivered and start on Monday, March 30.

Participants will meet from 6-8:30 p.m. on Mondays with the Juneau Master Gardeners class, through May 11. Because the Juneau training has already begun, additional classes will be scheduled online for Sitka participants at 6 p.m. on Wednesdays from April 1-22 to make up some of the hours missed. There also is one class session from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 25.

The session will provide basic and practical horticultural training on a wide range of topics, including how to design, plant and maintain successful gardens in Southeast Alaska. The classes will follow the Alaska Master Gardener program coordinated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service.

The UAF Cooperative Extension Service will host the session and the additional classes via Zoom webinar. The Juneau class is taught by Extension agent Darren Snyder, experts, and other Extension agents and staff. The Sitka additions will be organized by Extension assistant Jasmine Shaw and University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus biology professor Kitty LaBounty. Those also will be available by Zoom, through home internet.

Participants will commit to providing at least 40 hours of volunteer service to their communities within a year of completing the class. Trainees will be provided opportunities to share their skills with the community through various service projects and other venues.

Registration and additional details are available at The $300 fee includes an Alaska gardening manual (Alaska’s Sustainable Gardening Handbook) and a $150 deposit that will be refunded if service hours are completed within a year. For more information, contact Jasmine Shaw at

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


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

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

• Juneau hosts Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference on Feb. 25-26

Save the dates: The Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference takes place on Feb. 25-26 in Juneau, with the Southeast Gardening Workshop on Feb. 27. These events should be worth a trip from Sitka to Juneau.

Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference topics will include slugs and snails, low maintenance landscape design, propagating native plants, new varieties for 2010 and more.

As usual, the Polar Grower Trade Show will be available during the conference. All sessions will be at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Juneau (on Willoughby Ave.). Click here for a registration brochure with more details (link opens PDF file).

The Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference is hosted by the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, and conference details are available at 796-6221.

In addition to the two-day conference and trade show, there also is the Southeast Gardening Workshop on Feb. 27. For information on the Southeast Gardening Workshop, contact Darren Snyder of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service office in Juneau at 796-6281.

2010 Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference brochure (opens as PDF file)