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Farmers market roundtable provides networking and education
Alaska not only presents farmers with different growing conditions than the Lower 48, but different market conditions as well. A workshop held on Wednesday at Kenai’s Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association building invited prospective farmers on the Kenai Peninsula to learn about both.
Organizer Heidi Chay of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District said that the workshop, entitled “Scaling Up: Ready for the Farmer’s Market,” was aimed at hobbyists looking to become business owners.
“What we’re seeing is that all of the markets could use more vendors, and that there’s a lot of demand for local food,” Chay said. “The thrust of this event is to inspire those successful gardeners and high tunnel growers who are already scaling up and giving away food to their friends and family to think about becoming vendors.”
Workshop attendee Chelsea Holsonbeke is one such successful grower.
“We put in our own home-built high tunnel last year, and we did a bunch of preliminary experiments just to see what we could grow really well, and we were really successful, grew way more than we could eat, and decided that this year we’re going to look into making a business, going to farmer’s markets,” Holsonbeke said.
Although Holsonbeke has grown vegetables for personal use, she’s never grown commercially.
“We’ll see how this year goes, and if it’s really successful we’ll consider expanding,” Holsonbeke said. “Last year it was a hobby. This year it’s going to be serious.”
Chay encouraged gardeners like Holsonbeke by bringing together seven speakers, who presented on subjects ranging from practicalities like signage and booth display to food safety, how to use food assistance programs like SNAP and EBT, and the results of a 2013-2014 survey of Farmer’s Markets.
By Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter, Nov. 5, 2014
By the time Alaska Berries opened its new winery last month, owners Brian and Laurie Olson had already spent two years of intricate, meticulously conducted, carefully recorded experimentation, testing and polling in creating their menu of fruit wines.
They built a facility just for this purpose, with conditions specifically designed for optimal wine production and storage.
They’ve spent over 10 years gradually working toward this step in their long-term plan for their farm, starting with gradually clearing and fencing their 4 acres at the end of West Poppy Lane off Kalifornsky Beach Road between Kenai and Soldotna, then cultivating and perfecting their berry plants, selling plant starts, expanding into producing and selling jams and syrups, and, finally, producing the fermented fruits of their labor.
Read the rest of the article here.
Thank you to all the students who participated, and congratulations to this year’s winners of the annual conservation poster contest!
The Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce the winners of the annual conservation poster contest. This year’s theme – Dig Deeper: Mysteries in the Soil – challenged students to learn about and convey through artwork the complex living world beneath our feet.
First place winners in each age category (K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-6th) win $50 and the chance to compete in the state-level competition. Second place in each age group wins $30, and third place wins $20. All winners will be honored at the Central Peninsula Garden Club meeting to be held at 7 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association Building. Winners of the state level contest proceed to a national competition sponsored by the National Association of Conservation Districts.
This year’s local contest was co-sponsored by Central Peninsula Garden Club, Kenai Watershed Forum, UAF-Cooperative Extension Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service Kenai Field Office.
The Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District is happy to announce a poster contest open to students in grades K-12 in Nikiski, Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, Kasilof and Clam Gulch. The theme of this local, state, and national contest, “Dig Deeper: Mysteries in the soil,” gets kids learning and thinking about the living world beneath our feet. The contest is co-sponsored by the Central Peninsula Garden Club, Kenai Watershed Forum, 4-H/Cooperative Extension Service and NRCS. First prize winners in each age category (K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-6th, 7th-9th, 10th-12th) win $50 and the chance to compete in the state-level competition. Second place in each age group wins $30, and third place wins $20.
Posters are due September 30, 2014 and may be dropped off at any of the following locations:
Kenai Watershed Forum — 44129 Sterling Highway, Soldotna
4-H/Cooperative Extension Office — 43961 K-Beach Road
Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District –110 Trading Bay, Suite 160, Kenai