Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit seeks speakers for February 2019 event in Sitka

(Passing on an email from the Salt and Soil Marketplace regional food hub out of Juneau).

Hello Southeast Alaska farmers,

The 2019 SEAK Farmers Summit is right around the corner (February in Sitka) and in the spirit of the event, we are looking to include a few “cooperative farmer presentations” this year. The idea being that 2-4 farmers/growers team up to create a presentation that addresses (from a personal experience perspective) a topic that was requested on evaluations from the last summit in Haines. What follows is a list of the  requested topics/ideas:

  • Irrigation Systems
  • Pest/Disease Management
  • Greenhouse Growing/Supplemental Lighting
  • Packaging & Distribution
  • Specific Crop Information (exactly how YOU grow it)
  • “Worst mistakes you’ve ever made”
  • Growing Berries in SEAK
  • Methods for Seed Starting
  • Weed Suppression Techniques
  • Root Cellars

If you feel you have anything to contribute (even just a couple minutes worth) to sharing experience/knowledge related to any of these topics and would like to be included as a presenter for one of these cooperative presentations, please email Marja Smets of Farragut Farm for more information ( She will be coordinating this part of the agenda. We are looking for folks to prepare a 2-10 minute presentation (hopefully with pictures, but it is not required) and be willing to answer questions from the audience. Again, the idea is to foster conversation and the exchange of ideas among participating farmers/farmers-to-be.

Thanks and looking forward to seeing you all in February 2019.

Lia G. Heifetz
Director, Grow Southeast
1107 W. 8th Street, Suite 234
Juneau, Alaska 99801

• Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service writes about storing potatoes


Dr. Sonja Koukel of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service

Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service Image Gallery / Photo by Scott Bauer -- The average American eats 142 pounds of potatoes a year, making the tubers the vegetable of choice in this country

Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service Image Gallery / Photo by Scott Bauer -- The average American eats 142 pounds of potatoes a year, making the tubers the vegetable of choice in this country

Storing Potatoes

By Dr. Sonja Koukel, PhD
Health, Home & Family Development Program
UAF Cooperative Extension Service, Juneau Office


They live. They breathe. And because they’re 80 percent water, potato tubers thrive in humid locations. In moist Southeast Alaska, where are the best spots in your home to store your potatoes?

Research by University of Idaho Cooperative Extension Service scientists and College of Southern Idaho students has confirmed that the optimum sites for home-stored potatoes are cool, dark and ventilated rooms, closets, cabinets and garages. In studies conducted in their own residences, the agricultural science students also found that the perforated plastic bags used in many groceries offer the best environment for extending shelf life.

Potatoes stored inside these bags in unheated areas of the students’ homes benefited from a relatively cool average temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit and a relatively high average humidity of 67 percent. They shrank just 0.9 percent — only slightly more than the 0.6 percent weight loss measured in commercially stored potatoes. Potatoes on counter tops, in refrigerators and under the sink fared considerably worse.

If you only buy enough potatoes to eat within a few days, you can store them almost anywhere in your home as long as you keep them out of the light. But if you buy or harvest several pounds, your choice of location can clearly affect the potatoes’ long-term usability. Warm temperatures encourage sprouting and tuber disease, cold temperatures cause spuds to turn brown when fried, exposure to light prompts greening, sealed plastic containers starve tubers of oxygen and dry environments are downright withering.

The researchers recommend storing potatoes in an unheated entrance, spare room, attic, basement or garage insulated to protect against freezing, or in an extra refrigerator whose temperature can be set a few degrees higher than normal.

Whether you harvested potatoes from your garden or cashed in on a special sale, following these storage guidelines will help maintain a fresh product. And, a note of interest, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service has developed a new DVD on root cellars that will be available soon. You can access UAF Cooperative Extension Service publications at

Article resource: University of Idaho Cooperative Extension Service, (article opens as PDF file).