Educating Alaska Agriculture Professionals on Sustainable High Latitude Horticulture Production Practices
Initially, the plan was to hold a workshop for Alaska agricultural professionals focusing on season extension techniques and optimizing horticultural production in cold soils. However, due to the budget constraints of partner organizations, the delivery method of this workshop is changing. Instead of having attendants physically come to the workshop, the information will be disseminated through either a dvd or a series of online videos. There is also a website in progress that is designed to support networking among agricultural professionals, provide access to current and past Alaska-specific agricultural information, and will provide an access point for the workshop information.
The primary objective of this project is to provide Alaska’s Agricultural Professionals with access to important training in the realms of season extension methods and optimization of horticultural production cold soils. In addition to training, a website is being developed to facilitate networking among agricultural professionals statewide, and provide access to historic and current Alaska-specific agricultural information. Initially, the training was to take place at workshops held in Palmer and Faibanks, but the primary audience (NRCS) cannot afford to physically attend conferences, the instructional aspects of the workshop will be distance-delivered and recorded versions kept for future use.
The advisory group has identified all of the materials to be included in the library aspect of the website, and all of the information that needed to be digitized is digitized and included in the library. There are some files that are still being organized and will be added to the website. The website is currently in “beta-testing” and both feedback and comments from the testers are being incorporated in final revisions before making the website available to the public. The librarian co-PI has gone through the online library information on the website and has made appropriate organizational suggestions, which are in the process of being implemented. The workshop presenters are preparing for the instructional process. The instructional sessions still need to take place, and need to be recorded for distribution.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
It is anticipated that providing agricultural professionals statewide with training in season extension and cold soils production will have far-reaching impacts throughout the state. There is an incredible number of high tunnels being established throughout Alaska, and the growers will now have a stronger level of technical support by NRCS and UAF’s Cooperative Extension Service. More small communities statewide will have access to information about how to improve food-security and not have to completely rely on imported produce. As the number of small-scale producers in Alaska increases, there will be an increased need to teach cold soil strategies to a larger audience. Finally, the number of farmers’ markets throughout the state is increasing tremendously, which also encourages a large number of new growers, and a large number of growers wishing to improve their current production levels. These growers will also have a greater level of technical and informational support as a result of the training.
Horticulture Research Assistant
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Matanuska Experiment Farm
1509 S. Trunk Rd.
Palmer, AK 99645
Office Phone: 9077469460
University of Alaska Faribanks
Rasmuson Bioscience Library
186 Arctic Health Research Bldg.
Fairbanks, AK 99775
Office Phone: 9074741177