In the News: District’s Farm to Food Bank Project

by Victoria Petersen, Peninsula Clarion, Friday, September 14, 2018

Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District are expanding their catalog of affordable agricultural rental equipment through a charitable project that benefits both farmers and the community.

Three pieces of equipment, which includes a potato digger, a potato washer and a potato planter, were purchased with the assistance of grants from the Kenai Peninsula Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation and Western SARE. The equipment can be rented to small-scale farmers for $25 day, plus a donation of 25 pounds of potatoes to the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank. It’s a small price to pay for equipment that could cost a single farmer thousands.

Full story: http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2018-09-13/farm-food-bank-equipment-rental-leads-community-benefit/

Harvest Moon Farm Tour, Sept. 8

 

Wondering what it takes to produce and sell food on the Kenai Peninsula?  Join us
Saturday, Sept. 8 to tour three local farms that have met the challenge in unique ways. Meet the farmers and hear their stories: how their farms evolved, lessons learned along the way and why they are passionate about what they do.  Taste a variety of Alaska Grown wines to complete the tour. This tour, sponsored by Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District and Kenai Local Food Connection, in collaboration with Alaska Farm Tours, is the special kick-off event for Harvest Moon Local Food Week, Sept. 8 – 15, 2018. 

Tickets: $50, include a wine tasting at Alaska Berries.  TICKETS ON SALE NOW

See the full schedule of Harvest Moon events at www.KenaiLocalFood.org.

 

“Growing Success” Workshop for Small Farmers

Do you understand how the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will (or will not) impact your small farm? On-farm food safety, FSMA, intentional crop planning and post-harvest handling are some of the topics to be covered in a free workshop to be held Saturday, Apr. 8, 9 am to 5 pm at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai.  We are fortunate to have Atina Diffley of Family Farmed coming to lead the workshop, as well as a similar workshop in Homer on Apr. 7. Atina is an organic farmer, top-notch presenter and author of the 2012 award-winning memoire, Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works.  This don’t miss event is co-sponsored by Homer Farmers Market and Homer Soil & Water Conservation District.

There is no fee to attend.  Bring your own lunch.  And please register at http://tinyurl.com/FamilyFarmedAK. Questions? Email Heidi at kenaiswcd@gmail.com.

In the News: Local Agriculture

Growing the Economy: Agriculture Flourishing on the Kenai Peninsula

By Jenny Neyman

Dec. 23, 2015 — Redoubt Reporter

When people think about the economy of the Kenai Peninsula, it’s usually oil and gas, fishing, and maybe education, health care or government. But there’s a growing trend to add another sector to that list — farming.

“These are not hobby farmers, these are hard-working folks. They are investing in infrastructure, they are buying equipment, they’re building storage, they’re building refrigeration for peonies, they’re putting up more high tunnels planting more. These folks are thinking ahead, and I think the rest of us should, as well,” said Heidi Chay, manager of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District, speaking at a Kenai Chamber of Commerce meeting Dec. 16.

Commercial agriculture is typically thought of on a big scale, but the Kenai Peninsula is growing its own agricultural revolution, one small operation at a time.

“Today the farms that are making headlines are the small farms under 10 acres, very likely under 5 acres,” Chay said.  …

Link to the full article: https://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com/2015/12/23/growing-the-economy-agriculture-flourishing-on-kenai-peninsula/

Help ID Soil Research Priorities

Kenai Peninsula farmers and gardeners are invited to participate in a quick-and-easy survey to help establish priorities for soil-based research right here on the Kenai Peninsula. An initial list of projects was developed in November by representatives of Kenai and Homer Soil and Water Conservation Districts, NRCS and UAF Cooperative Extension. Now it is your turn to weigh in!  Here’s a link to the survey:
It will take about 3-5 minutes to complete. Please respond by Dec. 15 if possible. For more information, contact Heidi Chay at Kenai Soil and Water, 283-8732 x 5.

Press Release: $5/Week Alaska Grown Challenge

(Anchorage, Alaska) May 2015 – The Alaska Farm Bureau announces the $5/Week Alaska Grown Challenge – a statewide campaign to increase consumer spending on Alaska Grown products with the goal of strengthening local economies and increasing Alaska’s food security.

The Kenai Peninsula Chapter of the Alaska Farm Bureau, in partnership with the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District and several other local organizations, launched the $5/Week Alaska Grown Challenge on May 5, in honor of Alaska Agriculture Day.  Now the Challenge is going statewide with the help of social media, Farm Bureau chapters and local food advocates across the state.  …

Read the full press release and sign up for Challenge: http://www.alaskafb.org/take-the-5-00week-alaska-grown-challenge-and-increase-alaskas-food-security/

Local Media: Farmers Market Roundtable

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.

Read the full article: http://peninsulaclarion.com/news/2015-02-11/farmers-market-roundtable-provides-networking-and-education