Feb. 18 Forum on Cover Crops and Soil Health

Opening presentations from the National Forum on Cover Crops and Soil Health will be live-streamed from Omaha, Nebraska to over 230 sites across the country. Whether you have experience with cover crops or you’re just interested to learn, join us for the broadcast followed by discussion.  FREE and open to the public.

When: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 8:45 a.m. to noon

Where: Kenai Community Library

Schedule: 8:30 am, doors open; 8:45 am, program begins; 9 – 10:45 am, broadcast presentations; 10:45 am – noon, short break and discussion with local producers, NRCS and Cooperative Extension staff

Website: http://www.sare.org/Events/Forum-on-Cover-Crops-and-Soil-Health

Questions: Heidi Chay, Kenai Soil & Water, kenaiswcd@gmail.com, 283-8732 x 108

Feb. 10/11 Workshops for Hay Growers and Users

UAF/Cooperative Extension, in partnership with Fox River Cattlemen’s Association and Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, is hosting a Forage Workshop in Kenai and Homer.

Kenai – Monday, February 10, 2014 5:30 PM registration, 6:00-8:00 PM program, Kenai Community Library

Homer – Tuesday, February 11, 2014 5:30 PM registration, 6:00-8:00 PM program, Kachemak Bay Campus, Room 219

To Pre-register, contact Vicki Heinz at UAF CES Kenai District, 907.262.5824 or vheinz@alaska.edu

Dr. Mingchu Zhang will present on “Organic and inorganic nutrient sources for hay production in Alaska”. The talk will cover the results of experiments in Homer and Fairbanks area for hay production from adding organic (including fish fertilizer) or inorganic fertilizers. He will also briefly discuss soil testing.

Dr. Milan Shipka will present on “Hay quality considerations and how best to use the hay you have available”. You can’t change the quality of hay once you’ve put it in your barn. Anyone with animals needs to consider the nutrient needs of their animals and how best to get the nutrients to their animals. Dr. Shipka will discuss nutrient needs and digestion in ruminant animals (e.g., cattle, goat, sheep, llama, alpaca, etc.) and the nutrient needs and digestion in horses.

This FREE workshop is offered to all animal and hayproducers and the interested public.

Alaska Food Resources Working Group Launches

State department heads come together to figure out Alaska food security

by Suzanna Caldwell
Nov. 4, 2013 Alaska Dispatch

In a small, gray Atwood Building conference room, half a dozen state commissioners passed around a surprising snack: An enormous bowl full of yellow, purple and bright orange Alaska-grown carrots.

While carrots might not seem like the most expected snack for a high-level early morning meeting, it made sense Monday, when commissioners from various state departments came together in Anchorage to talk about one thing that ties all Alaskans together: food.

It was the first meeting of the Alaska Food Resources Working Group, a committee set up under an administrative order by Gov. Sean Parnell this summer to recommend measures to increase the purchase and consumption of Alaska seafood and farm products. The goal is to identify challenges while, at the same time, increasing coordination within government agencies.

Read the full article here: http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/20131104/state-department-heads-come-together-figure-out-alaska-food-security

2013 Central Peninsula High Tunnel Tour

Despite a slow start to the season, the Central Peninsula’s high tunnels have made up the lost time by yielding some impressive produce. Come check out some of this year’s abundance by attending the 2013 High Tunnel Tour. The tour features high tunnels from three different manufacturers and a variety of ventilation and irrigation systems. Times and locations are as follows:

Saturday, Aug. 10

1:00 pm – Suzanne Phillips, 35′ x 60′ Farm Tek Pro Solar Star with roll-down sides

Driveway is located on the North side of K-Beach between Ciechanski and Diamond M Ranch, directly across from Mosey Along. Look for the Phillips arch over the long driveway. High tunnel is visible on the right as you turn onto Grant.

3:00 pm – Travis Keller, two 24′ x 32′ Farm Tem Pro Solar Stars

In Soldotna, take Irons Ave. off Kenai Spur. Look for the greenhouse behind Lucky Raven Tobacco.

Saturday, Aug. 24

2:00 pm – Ginger Bouton, 30′ x 72′ Oregon Valley, semi-gabled

Take Poppy Lane to the college then go left on Poppy Ridge. Turn right on Bonita, go one block. Turn left on Fern Forest. Boutons are at 35656 Fern Forest Street.

4:00 pm – Ron Homan, 30′ x 48′ Rimol Nor’Easter

At mile 12.5 K-Beach turn left on Equestrian. Go one block to a “T” and turn left. Go to the log house on the right at the dead end.

See you at the 2013 High Tunnel Tour!

Growers and Chefs Connect at Chamber of Commerce Luncheon

It was a full house on Jan. 16 when the Kenai and Soldotna Chambers of Commerce, Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District and UAF Cooperative Extension co-sponsored a joint luncheon to promote business relationships between local restaurants and farmers.  Speakers included Alaska Division of Agriculture Marketing Manager Amy Pettit who introduced the Alaska Grown Restaurant Rewards Program.  The program, launched in 2012, reimburses food service businesses up to 20 percent for what they spend on Alaska-grown produce.  Alice Kerkvliet, owner of Michel’s Restaurant in Soldotna, said she would certainly be signing up for the new program.  She and chef Denise McCamon both sang the praises of locally-grown and said they buy it whenever possible, to the tune of 20 to 25 % of their produce purchases annually.  Judy Fischer, owner of Fischers’ Fresh Farm Produce in Kasilof, listed the health, economic and environmental benefits of consuming local, organic produce. She has sold produce to the Mermaid Cafe in Homer and would love to find buyers in the Central Peninsula area.  After the luncheon, local growers and restaurateurs had the opportunity to visit and explore possibilities for the upcoming growing season.  Click here for a Peninsula Clarion article on the event.

From the Local Press

Homegrown revolution — Gardeners expand to tackle Alaska’s food insecurity

 By Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter

Here’s something to chew on with your breakfast: The eggs for that omelet you’re eating — or the milk in your cereal, the meat in your sausage, the honey in your tea, the jam on your toast — probably wasn’t produced in Alaska. But half a century ago, it probably was.

The factors contributing to this fact are many, and about as complicated as making a soufflé in an Easy-Bake Oven with no electricity at the 17,200-foot camp on Denali’s west buttress.

Convenience, cost, and consumer demand related to those, are big parts of the equation. It’s also a product of changes in globalization, infrastructure, transportation, supply chains, the increase in corporations and conglomerations vs.. privately owned businesses, marketing strategies, subsidies, technologies and growing conditions. It doesn’t break down into an easy recipe, with one part of this to two parts of that, or three tablespoons of this whisked into four cups of that.

The result, however, is quantifiable: In 1955, 55 percent of the food consumed in Alaska was produced in Alaska. Today, a mere 5 percent of the food Alaskans eat is produced in Alaska.

And that, say experts concerned with the health, stability and economy of Alaska, is as bitter a problem as mistaking salt for sugar.

 “In 1955 we were pretty self-sufficient, but from 1955 to 2010, we have gone from being self-reliant and independent to completely vulnerable, completely dependent on the next plane,” said Danny Consenstein, director of the Alaska Farm Service Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Consenstein points to three justifications for needing a better local foods system in Alaska… See the rest of the article at:  http://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/homegrown-revolution-gardeners-expand-to-tackle-alaskas-food-insecurity/

Enter the “Soil to Spoon” Poster Contest

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, “Soil to Spoon,” gets kids learning and thinking about where food comes from, as well as the connection between soil conservation and the food we eat every day.  First prize winners in each age category (K-1st, 2nd-3rd, 4th-6th, 7th-9th, 10th-12th) win $20 and the chance to compete in the state-level competition.  Second place in each age group wins $10, and third place wins $5.  Prizes will be awarded 7 pm, Tuesday, Nov. 13 at the Central Peninsula Garden Club meeting at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Building.  The entry deadline is Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.  We’d like to thank our co-sponsors, the Central Peninsula Garden Club, UAF Cooperative Extension, 4-H, and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula.  Click the following links to download contest rules and the entry form.  And good luck! 

Poster Contest Info & Rules    

Poster Contest Entry Form                 


Borough Schools Get Funding for Local Food

Did you know that the Alaska Legislature allocated $3 million in this year’s state budget for the pilot phase of the Nutrional Alaskan Foods in Schools grant program and that $131,135 is earmarked for Kenai Peninsula Borough schools  Register now for an introductory webinar on Sept. 14 at 9:30 – 10:30 am, or Sept. 19, 2 – 3 pm to find out how you can take advantage of this program to market your produce, perhaps in future years.  Have produce for sale right now  Contact Dean Hamburg, Student Nutrition Services Administrator at 714-8890 to let him know what’s available right here in our community.  And please spread the word to parents, teachers and students!  Local decision-makers need to hear that local people want fresh, healthy local food.