Spring 2015 Ag Events News & Classes

If you grow or want to grow anything, it is time get your calendars out and start planning for March.

On March 3 there will be two important and useful sustainable agriculture workshops.

And then, on March 4 and 5, there will be the 11th Annual Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

Both the workshops and the conference will be at the Westmark Hotel and Conference Center in Fairbanks.

The first workshop will introduce holistic farm decision making and will be led by Phil Metzger from the Holistic Management Institute.

Do you have a farm or ranch that you are thinking about expanding? Are you thinking about farming or ranching? What are the questions that you need to ask and who should be involved in the decisions? This workshop will last all day.

Seating is limited and the presenter is hands-on, enthusiastic and one of the best. At the end of the day you should have a realistic path forward to starting or expanding your operation.

The second workshop is all about hydroponics. Have you wanted to grow herbs or vegetables all year long? Do you have some available space in your garage or house? If so, this afternoon workshop led by Jeff Werner, who has years of experience with controlled-growing environments in Interior Alaska, will give you all the knowledge you need to set up and manage your own hydroponic systems.

The Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference includes a wide array of topics such as economics, food security, livestock, fruit, vegetables, sustainable practices, marketing, and management.

Last year’s conference featured many short talks and we were told that speakers needed more time. So this year speakers will be given more time. To accomplish this, more than half the conference will have two concurrent sessions. You get to choose which talk of two you are more interested in attending.

See our schedule of events and register for this exciting conference and the workshops at http://bit.ly/sareconf. This conference is a must for anyone raising crops or livestock in Alaska.

Immediately following the Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference is the Alaska Master Gardeners Statewide Conference on March 7 at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge.

There will be a variety of excellent speakers addressing all aspects of gardening in Alaska. This conference will be fun and informative for anyone with a home garden or flower bed. You do not have to be a Master Gardener to attend and you will meet many people who are excited about and skilled at growing plants in Alaska. Information on talks and registration for this conference can be found at fairbanksmastergardeners.wordpress.com.

On January 29, 30 and 31 the Alaska Peony Growers Winter Conference will be held at the Westmark Hotel and Conference Center. Alaska peonies are proving to be an excellent export crop and there is a need for continued expansion. If you have some land and are wondering how to earn some income, this is the conference for you.

There is much to be learned about growing peonies and the Alaska Peony Growers are working to together to learn as much as possible as fast as possible. As with the other conferences, there will be many excellent presentations. For registration and schedules, go to www.alaskapeonies.org.

I know it is January and it seems like a long time until spring, but this is the time to look through your seed catalogs, plan what to grow and imagine starting your seeds. And in less than seven weeks from now, these conferences and workshops will take place. Perfect timing to give you the information you need to have your best growing season ever.

Growing plants and raising animals in Alaska has challenges and opportunities unlike almost anywhere else in the world.

Come share what you know, learn from the experts and meet lots of wonderful people.

Steven Seefeldt is the Tanana District agriculture and horticulture agent for the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He can be reached at 907-474-2423 or ssseefeldt@alaska.edu.

Alaska Herb Guide Published

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service has published a comprehensive Alaska guide for herb enthusiasts.

An Alaska Herb Garden features information about cultivating, harvesting, storing and using herbs. The 74-page guide includes color illustrations, recipes and detailed information on 25 herbs and general information on nearly 40 more.

The guide is a collaboration between Extension and the Georgeson Botanical Garden. The garden??s director, professor Pat Holloway, wrote the section about cultivating herbs, which includes research conducted by the garden and by volunteers.

The publication is dedicated to Barbara Fay, a longtime gardener who taught community herb classes in Fairbanks for more than 20 years. She worked with Holloway on herb research at the garden and enlisted other gardeners to join her and tend the herb beds.

Fays notes and class materials formed the guides framework. Extension home economist Roxie Dinstel and two of Fays fellow herb enthusiasts, Virginia Damron and Marsha Munsell, provided information on preserving and storing herbs, edited the guide and tested recipes.

Holloway said the guide will be a great asset to gardeners and others interested in growing and using the herbs. She credits Fay.

This is her idea, her baby, she said. She is the one who got us all riled up about herbs.

Copies are $15 and available at Extension district offices or by calling 1-877-520-5211.

ON THE WEB: www.uaf.edu/ces/