High Tunnel gardening featured at Food Bank Farmers Market

The Tuesday Farmers Market at the Peninsula Food Bank on K-Beach Rd offers an abundance of locally grown produce and a variety of items from fresh peonies to bee pollen and rare items such as Alaskan Chaga. At last week’s market Lark Ticen taught a class on high tunnel farming at the Food Bank high tunnel in cooperation with Janice Chumley, cooperative extension agent from the U of AK Fairbanks. “The class was called square foot gardening and is for season extension. The concept is that you manage your soils and truly wind up in one square foot being able to produce a number of different crops that you rotate through so it’s not the same thing planted in the same place over and over which reduces disease and insect pressure while enriching the soil,” explained Chumley. “The high tunnels is a learning experience for the entire Kenai Peninsula and is interesting to see what people decide that they will choose to plant in them while discovering what they can plant in them and use them as true season extension tools so you can plant earlier in the spring harvest that crop and plant another crop throughout the summer and into fall as well. It’s amazing what we are learning and the interest in them as every class we offer fills up. There is a lot going on in agriculture right now on the Kenai Peninsula,” added Chumley.

Meanwhile at her booth at the Tuesday market Judy Fischer and her 9-year-old daughter had a beautiful bowl of edible flowers along with fresh eggs, local honey and bee pollen from their Fischer Fresh Farm in Kasilof. “It’s been a great year for the bees,” Judy told the Dispatch, “We had an early spring and now we have a lot of produce,” she said. “I’m not scared when bees come around me and I love the honey,” added Brooke. A booth over from the Fisher’s was Barry Solie and his son of Solie’s Homestead Enterprises who were offering Alaskan Chaga tea that grows on birch trees and has been used by ancient peoples of Alaska for medicinal purposes for millenniums, “There’s different kinds but this is called Chaga and looks almost like a borough on the tree. Natives have used it for hundreds of years and now according to studies by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center they are finding it has a lot of different antioxidant properties that are antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-tumor inhibiting. It has a very mild earthy flavor with no after taste. Our Chaga is all selectively handpicked and carefully processed from 100% pure Alaskan Birch Chaga,” said Solie. You can learn more from about Alaskan Chaga and all the produce now being offered by visiting the Tuesday Farmers Market at the Peninsula Food Bank from 3:00-6:00pm.