Fruit and Berry Tree Crop Trial Program for Native Alaskan Rural Communities in Interior Alaska

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2006: $193,324.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Western
State: Alaska
Principal Investigator:
Kendra Calhoun
Cooperative Extension Service, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Robert Wheeler
Alaska Cooperative Extension Service
Dr. Meriam Karlsson
University of Alaska

Annual Reports


  • Fruits: pears, plums, berries (strawberries)


  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, demonstration
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    This research project will investigate the potential for the production of domestically grown fruit and berry crops in native Alaska villages in the interior region of Alaska. Villages throughout this large geographic region are located within Zone 1 or Zone 2 hardiness zones. Recent research with cold hardy fruit (apple, plum, and pear) and berry crops at Canadian and other research sites has developed several varieties that have potential for success in Interior Alaska. Given that most rural villages in the interior are not on the road system and depend on imported high-cost foods, there are high rates of unemployment and low average incomes per household. The high incidence of Type 2 diabetes from diet and life style has led to a critical need to provide sustainable, lower-cost, locally grown fruits. This trial is intended to provide critical information and training on cold hardy varieties and the use of high-tunnel technology to promote survival, yield and flavor. The research site in the village of Nenana has been provided by the village council and will be protected by a moose-proof fence. A community workshop and public school education program will be developed in conjunction with the trial program to engage their support and provide education on the science of fruit production. A Cooperative Extension Service publication will be produced that provides guidance on the care of cold hardy varieties and general orchard management.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Project Goal: Prove that fruit and berries can be successfully grown in rural villages of Interior Alaska using cold hardy varieties and high-tunnel technology.

    Objective 1: Establish a fruit tree/berry trial in rural villages.

    Objective 2: Engage the community in an outreach program that includes public school education and community involvement in the care and management of the village trial.

    Objective 3: Develop a supportive document outlining procedures for the construction of high tunnels and their application for Interior Alaska communities. Issues covered will include design of the high tunnel, water and fertilizer needs, power, high-tunnel management, varieties suited to the region, limiting winter damage, and fruit storage.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.