“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.

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

Free Class on Garden Troubleshooting

With the Summer Growing Season off to a great start it is time to look around and see how your garden is growing. Are some plants looking like something might be bothering them? Is it a bug or lack of nutrients, or is it planted in the wrong location? These questions and more will be covered in a FREE CLASS on Tuesday June 17th 2014 from 5:30-7:00PM at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank high tunnel and garden. Janice Chumley, IPM tech for the Cooperative Extension Service will teach a Garden Problem Troubleshooting Class for attendees. This class will help growers figure out what is going on in their gardens using IPM to maximize growth and fight pests.

Space is limited, so registration is required, please call 262-5824 to reserve your space in this timely class.

Offered in partnership with the Square Foot Gardening Class, Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, USDA-NRCS and the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank for the benefit of growers across the Kenai. We hope to see you there.

— from Janice Chumley, UAF Cooperative Extension

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.