Local Media: Alaska Berries’ New Winery

Picked to pour — Alaska Berries plans winery from plant to finished product

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.

Winning Posters 2014

Thank you to all the students who participated, and congratulations to this year’s winners of the annual conservation poster contest!

Poster Contest Winners Announced!

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.


Prize Name Grade School Age Teacher
Grades K-1
1st Daniel Steffensen 1st Connections


Grades 2-3
1st Emelia Malone 3rd Mt. View


Mrs. Morrow
Grades 4-6
1st Maria Shaginoff 6th KMS


Mrs. Beck
2nd Arielle Hamar 6th KMS


Mrs. Beck
2rd Kaylee Lauritsen 6th KMS


Mrs. Rolph
3rd Sammy Baker 6th KMS


Mrs. Beck
3rd Owen Rolph 6th KMS


Mrs. Beck


2014 Poster Contest: Dig Deeper!

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

Contest Information and Entry Form

Poster Design Tips

2013 National Contest Winners

Good luck!


Local Media: O’Brien Garden and Trees

High tunnels boost Kenai orchard

Peninsula Clarion
June 22, 2014
Inside the towering high tunnels’ at O’Brien Garden and Trees, are rows of meticulously sown trees, erupting with vibrant green leaves; the branches laden with the beginnings of this year’s fruit crop.

The expansive green space is the result of four-decades of experimentation and the recent move to indoor growing for the agricultural operation.

Link to the full article: http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2014-06-22/how-to-use-a-high-tunnel

National Press: Flowers from Alaska

Flowers From Alaska

by Amy Nordrum, Atlantic Monthly

For late-summer weddings, the peonies can only come from one place. And when one woman realized that, she started planting.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Beks, North Pole Peonies

Peonies—those gorgeous, pastel flowers that can bloom as big as dinner plates—are grown all over the world, but there’s only one place where they open up in July. That’s in Alaska, and ever since a horticulturalist discovered this bit of peony trivia, growers here have been planting the flowers as quickly as they can.

… Meanwhile, large flower companies like Currie’s in the lower 48 states are watching Alaska’s small growers to see what they can make of the opportunity before them. One company—Kennicot Brothers from Chicago—has already invested in the state’s peony industry, buying into several farms on the Kenai peninsula. …

Full article:  http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/flowers-from-alaska/372994/