2018 Weed-Free Inspections Offered

Aside

Alaska’s Certified Weed-Free Gravel Program is a voluntary inspection program administered by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources/Plant Materials Center and carried out on the Kenai Peninsula by the Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District.  The purpose of the program is to increase the availability of weed-free products to land managers working in sensitive areas to prevent the spread of invasive weeds and protect fish and wildlife habitat.

The demand for certified weed-free gravel is growing.  The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge began requiring certified weed-free gravel for all construction projects within Refuge boundaries in late 2013.  The US Forest Service, US Department of Transportation and BLM have also started to include weed-free provisions in their contracts.  We expect demand to continue to expand as a result of large-scale highway projects slated for the Kenai Peninsula.

Getting certified is probably easier than you think.  The first thing to know is that not all weeds are on the invasive list.  The second is that even when invasive weeds are found, it is possible to treat them to meet certification requirements.  Keep in mind that gravel has to be inspected before being moved.  Certificates are good for 1 – 6 months depending on time of year and site conditions.

Certification is affordable.  The annual fee of $500 includes three to four inspections and expert guidance on weed prevention and effective control measures at one site up to 5 acres.  Partial-year certification is also available for short-term projects.

Be ready to bid on projects requiring certified weed-free gravel by requesting inspection early.  Inspections are scheduled on a first-come-first-serve basis.

For an inspection request form and fee schedule or request information about our Certified Weed-Free Forage program, email kenaiswcd@gmail.com, or call 283-8732 x 5. To learn more about what weeds are a problem and why, visit www.kenaiweeds.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: Weed-Free Gravel Certification

Kenai Soil & Water is helping contain the spread of invasive plants through its gravel certification program in partnership with Alaska Division of Agriculture and the Alaska Plant Materials Center.

Participants in Certified Weed-Free Inspector Training conduct a mock inspection at a Soldotna gravel pit in May, 2016.

Read more here: http://peninsulaclarion.com/outdoors/refuge-notebook-smarter-management-of-invasive-plants-with-weed-free-gravel

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.

Local Media: Cultivating learning in Kasilof

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Students at Tustumena Elementary School spread soil, dig holes and plant willows and garden crops last week as part of Schoolyard Habitat project.

Cultivating learning experience — Kasilof students digging the opportunity to grow

By Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter

For some students, particularly those living in metropolitan or urban areas, learning about wildlife and wilderness habitats is an abstract concept learned from books or seen only by taking field trips. Not so for Alaska kids. They need only look out the window to see the woods and quite possibly a moose or some other wild animal.

Wanting to capitalize on the unique opportunities afforded students in this area, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service developed the Schoolyard Habitat program, which aims to make school grounds more hospitable to wildlife, while simultaneously providing a place for children to learn about and connect with nature.

Now in its second full year, the program has expanded to three peninsula schools — Kaleidoscope School of Art and Sciences in Kenai, Sterling Elementary and Tustumena Elementary in Kasiof, which took on an ambitious end-of-the-year project.

“It doesn’t look like much now, but come back in five years,” said Dan Funk, (Kenai Soil & Water Conservation) District Schoolyard Habitat coordinator, about the fenced-in, 60-by-40-foot area adjacent to Tustumena Elementary. Fifth- and sixth-grade students spread topsoil, dug holes and planted 200 willow saplings, as well as some garden foods, last week. …

Full article: https://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com/2015/05/20/cultivating-learning-experience-kasilof-students-digging-the-opportunity-to-grow/