Samia Savell to host meeting Aug. 9 in Sitka to discuss soil quality, high tunnels, and other USDA NRCS programs

Are you interested in learning how soil quality impacts your home garden? Do you want to learn how to get funding for a high tunnel to extend your growing season? Join Samia Savell of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Juneau for an informal discussion about those topics and others at noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 9, in the Gus Adams Meeting Room at the Sitka Public Library. Note, Samia has reserved the meeting room until 2 p.m. in case people want to stay after and ask her questions.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) assists agricultural producers with conservation efforts on their cultivated land. Technical assistance is available upon request, and is tailored to each landowner’s unique situation. Working with NRCS staff, landowners identify resource concerns such as poor soil quality or plant health, inefficient water use, or even energy conservation, and develop a plan to address those concerns while supporting their production goals.

Program funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) can help defray costs of implementing conservation practices outlined in the plan. Applications are currently being accepted for fiscal year 2019 EQIP funding. Interested producers must first establish farm records with the Farm Services Agency, and verify that they and their land are eligible for funding.

Typical practices supported through EQIP funding in Southeast Alaska include nutrient management, crop rotation, cover crops, and high tunnels. High tunnels, also known as hoop houses or temporary greenhouses, extend the growing season so more food is produced before and after the traditional weather dates for growing stuff outdoors. They also can help with irrigation and drainage, and with pest control.

High tunnels differ from greenhouses in that crops are grown in the ground or in raised beds rather than in containers. Geodomes are also eligible for funding. Funding through EQIP requires the landowner to purchase a structure and install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Additional information can be found in the NRCS high tunnel fact sheet (attached), or by contacting the Juneau Field Office. Low tunnels, which usually involve some PVC pipe bent over a garden bed and covered with row cover, and homemade structures are not eligible in this program.

More information about NRCS programs can be found at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcseprd1338028.pdf or by contacting the Juneau Field Office at 907-586-7220.

• Information about the USDA NRCS high tunnel program in Alaska

Samia Savell of USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to be in Sitka to meet with growers

Samia Savell of the Juneau office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture‘s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will be in Sitka on Friday, June 23, to meet with local food growers about her program’s services. She currently is setting up one-on-one meetings from 4-6 p.m. on Friday afternoon at the Sitka Public Library study room.

Among the services provided by the USDA NRCA’s Alaska program is nutrient management to improve soil quality, irrigation system design, energy conservation, and possibly funding for high tunnels if it will improve crop condition and varieties (the high tunnel program is geared toward conserving resources and is offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program).

If you are interested in learning more about the programs and how you can work with the USDA NRCA, or setting up a meeting, please contact Samia at (907) 586-7220, Extension 100, or email her at samia.savell@ak.usda.gov.

Deadline approaching for FY2017 high tunnel cost share program

2017 High Tunnel_1

IMG_8020Applications are being accepted for the fiscal year 2017 fiscal year high tunnel cost share program in Southeast Alaska, which is coordinated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Applications for the FY2017 funding period are due by Sept. 1, 2016, in the USDA NRCS Juneau Field Office. However, applicants are encouraged to apply early for the program, which is part of the USDA Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

“Since people need to verify they are eligible prior to submitting an application, I highly recommend that people interested in applying for NRCS programs get in touch with the field office by July 31,” said Samia Savell, USDA District Conservationist for the Juneau Field Office. “The Juneau Field Office now has two additional staff – Will Murray and Jodi Hastings. Any of us can answer questions or assist with the necessary application requirements.”

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) may provide funding assistance to qualified landowners in order to offset the cost of purchasing professionally manufactured high tunnels.

Juneau_tunnel1High tunnels, also known as hoop houses or temporary greenhouses, extend the growing season so more food is produced before and after the traditional weather dates for growing stuff outdoors. They also can help with irrigation and drainage, and with pest control.

High tunnels are different than greenhouses in that they are passively heated by the sun, so they have lower energy costs than greenhouses. High tunnels are at least nine feet tall (an increase from six feet tall in recent years), so people can walk upright in them. Low tunnels, which usually involve some PVC pipe bent over a garden bed and covered with row cover, aren’t eligible in this program. Food in high tunnels is planted either directly into the ground or in raised beds, not in containers.

Picture10To learn more about the USDA’s high tunnel program, click here, and click here to get information about the application procedure. This link has frequently asked questions and answers about seasonal high tunnel systems for crops. This link has a fact sheet about high tunnels.

The high tunnel cost share program started a couple of years ago as a pilot program, but now is a permanent part of of the NRCS EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Programs). The program recently was revamped, and one major change is there now is no size restriction on the structures NRCS provides cost-sharing funds (previously it was limited to up to 2,178 square feet, or 5 percent of one acre). Also, geodesic domes are now eligible. Both the land owner and land must meet certain eligibility requirements.

Funding is provided on a reimbursable status once the high tunnel is installed and certified to meet NRCS standards. In 2012 there was just one high tunnel in Sitka, but in 2013 there were six. Other areas of the state, such as Homer, have built dozens of high tunnels through the program.

EQIP FY 2017 Dates to Know“The application itself is due by Sept. 1, but applicants must have already gotten a farm and tract number by registering with the Farm Services Agency – and it can take some time to get that done,” Savell said. This link includes a table outline of the various dates when things are due (or click the image at left).

For information regarding the NRCS technical service or program participation in Southeast Alaska, please contact Samia Savell, Will Murray, or Jodi Hastings at the Juneau field office at (907) 586-7220 or 586-7208, or send an email to samia.savell@ak.usda.gov, william.murray@ak.usda.gov, or joanne.hastings@ak.usda.gov. Click here for a link to the Alaska NRCS page. Contact information for the offices in Alaska is also available at www.ak.nrcs.usda.gov/contact/fieldoffices.html.

 

• USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers funding support program for high tunnels

picture8

The deadline has been set for the next round of applications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCA) cost-sharing program. This program enables qualifying landowners who produce food to build high tunnels with financial assistance from the USDA.

The next NRCS Alaska program deadline is June 15, 2016. However, the program usually sets two applications deadlines a year so applications can be batched and ranked. Applications that miss the June 15 deadline will be held for the next deadline (usually about Oct. 15, but it hasn’t yet been posted online for 2016). Applicants are encouraged to apply outside two deadline cycles, because sometimes funding is available.

“The next deadline is June 15, 2016 – for funding in the 2017 fiscal year,” said Samia Savell, of the Juneau Field Office of the USDA-NRCS. “However, we often get additional funding in the current fiscal year and have the opportunity to fund applications that have been submitted past the prior deadlines. In other words, if you know of people who are interested in the program, please have them contact me to get the application materials. We do accept applications at any time.”

High tunnels, also known as hoop houses or temporary greenhouses, extend the growing season so more food is produced before and after the traditional weather dates for growing stuff outdoors. They also can help with irrigation and drainage, and with pest control.

High tunnels are different than greenhouses in that they are passively heated by the sun, so they have lower energy costs than greenhouses. High tunnels are at least nine feet tall (an increase from six feet tall in recent years), so people can walk upright in them. Low tunnels, which usually involve some PVC pipe bent over a garden bed and covered with row cover, aren’t eligible in this program. Food in high tunnels is planted either directly into the ground or in raised beds, not in containers. To learn more about the USDA’s high tunnel program, click here, and click here to get information about the application procedure. This link has frequently asked questions and answers about seasonal high tunnel systems for crops.

Picture10This program started a couple of years ago as a pilot program, but now is a permanent part of of the NRCS EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Programs). The program recently was revamped, and one major change is there now is no size restriction on the structures NRCS provides cost-sharing funds (previously it was limited to up to 2,178 square feet, or 5 percent of one acre). Also, geodesic domes are now eligible. Both the land owner and land must meet certain eligibility requirements.

Funding is provided on a reimbursable status once the high tunnel is installed and certified to meet NRCS standards. In 2012 there was just one high tunnel in Sitka, but in 2013 there were six. Other areas of the state, such as Homer, have built dozens of high tunnels through the program.

For information regarding the NRCS technical service or program participation in Southeast Alaska, please contact Samia Savell or Will Murray at the Juneau field office at (907) 586-7220 or 586-7208, or send email to samia.savell@ak.usda.gov or william.murray@ak.usda.gov. The June 15, 2016, deadline is the first deadline for the Fiscal Year 2017 funding cycle. Click here for a link to the Alaska NRCS page. Click here for an interview with Samia Savell on KRBD-FM (Ketchikan) about the program.

• High Tunnels In Alaska Fact Sheet (October 2015)

• Flier about Southeast Alaska cost-sharing program for FY2016 (March 2015, note, information should be similar for FY2017)

• USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers funding support program for high tunnels

picture8

The deadline is coming up for the next round of applications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCA) cost-sharing program. This program enables qualifying landowners who produce food to build high tunnels with financial assistance from the USDA.

The next NRCA Alaska program deadline is June 15. However, the program usually sets two applications deadlines a year so applications can be batched and ranked. Applications that miss the June 15 deadline will be held for the next deadline (usually Sept. 15, but it hasn’t yet been posted online).

High tunnels, also known as hoop houses or temporary greenhouses, extend the growing season so more food is produced before and after the traditional weather dates for growing stuff outdoors. They also can help with irrigation and drainage, and with pest control.

High tunnels are different than greenhouses in that they are passively heated by the sun, so they have lower energy costs than greenhouses. High tunnels are at least six-feet tall, so people can walk upright in them. Low tunnels, which usually involve some PVC pipe bent over a garden bed and covered with row cover, aren’t eligible in this program. Food in high tunnels is planted either directly into the ground or in raised beds. To learn more about the USDA’s high tunnel program, click here, and click here to get information about the application procedure. This link has frequently asked questions and answers about seasonal high tunnel systems for crops.

Picture10This program started a couple of years ago as a pilot program, but now is a permanent part of of the NRCS EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Programs). The program recently was revamped, and one major change is there now is no size restriction on the structures NRCS provides cost-sharing funds (previously it was limited to up to 2,178 square feet, or 5 percent of one acre). Also, geodesic domes are now eligible. Both the land owner and land must meet certain eligibility requirements.

Funding is provided on a reimbursable status once the high tunnel is installed and certified to meet NRCS standards. In 2012 there was just one high tunnel in Sitka, but in 2013 there were six. Other areas of the state, such as Homer, have built dozens of high tunnels through the program.

For information regarding the NRCS technical service or program participation in Southeast Alaska, please contact Samia Savell or Will Murray at the Juneau field office at (907) 586-7220 or 586-7208, or send email to samia.savell@ak.usda.gov or william.murray@ak.usda.gov. The June 15 deadline is the first deadline for the Fiscal Year 2016 funding cycle. Click here for a link to the Alaska NRCS page. Click here for an interview with Samia Savell on KRBD-FM (Ketchikan) about the program.

• High Tunnel In Alaska Fact Sheet (March 2014)

• Flier about Southeast Alaska cost-sharing program for FY2016 (March 2015)

• 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

• USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers funding support program for high tunnels

picture8

The deadline is coming up for the next round of applications for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCA) cost-sharing program that enables qualifying landowners who produce food to build high tunnels.

The NRCA Alaska program sets two applications deadlines a year (Sept. 15 and June 15) so applications can be batched and ranked. Applications that miss the Sept. 15 deadline will be held for the June 15 deadline.

High tunnels, also known as hoop houses or temporary greenhouses, extend the growing season so more food is produced before and after the traditional dates for growing stuff outdoors.

High tunnels are different than greenhouses in that they are passively heated by the sun, so they have lower energy costs than greenhouses. High tunnels are at least six-feet tall, and low tunnels aren’t eligible in this program. Food in high tunnels is planted either directly into the ground or in raised beds. To learn more about the USDA’s high tunnel program, click here (note, link is to FY2014 program information, there have been updates for FY2015 but no link was available). This link has frequently asked questions and answers about seasonal high tunnel systems for crops.

Picture10This program started a couple of years ago as a pilot program, but now is a permanent part of of the NRCS EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Programs). The program recently was revamped, and one major change is there now is no size restriction on the size of structures NRCS will provide cost-sharing funds (previously it was limited to up to 2,178 square feet, or 5 percent of one acre). Also, geodesic domes are now eligible. Both the land owner and land must meet certain eligibility requirements.

Funding is provided on a reimbursable status once the high tunnel is installed and certified to meet NRCS standards. In 2012 there was just one high tunnel in Sitka, but in 2013 there were six. Other areas of the state, such as Homer, have built dozens of high tunnels through the program.

For information regarding the NRCS technical service or program participation in Southeast Alaska, please contact Samia Savella at the Juneau field office at (907) 586-7220 or samia.savell@ak.usda.gov. Applications currently are being accepted for the 2015 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2014, to Sept. 30, 2015) and applications must be received at the Juneau field office on or before Sept. 15, 2014. Click here for a link to the Alaska NRCS page.

• High Tunnel Fact Sheet March 2014

• Flier about Southeast Alaska cost-sharing program March 2014