Alaskan Carrot Cake. . .Dogs Love It!

Every summer I look forward to purchasing Alaskan grown carrots when they show up at farmer’s markets then local grocery stores.  Also, each winter I’m unreasonably sad when the commercial supply of Alaskan carrots is gone for the year!   I’m not a vegetable gardener, choosing instead to grow flowers for cutting and arranging in vases. If I ever tried my hand at growing vegetables, I would definitely plant carrots. It’s a funny coincidence that the family recipe I cherish the most is my Grandmother’s carrot cake. I have fond Read More …

The Jensen-Olson Arboretum in Juneau, Alaska – A gift for the senses

Pollinator on Primula

The Jensen-Olson Arboretum  in Juneau, Alaska A Gift For The Senses It is a gorgeous day in Southeast Alaska and I am heading to The Jensen-Olson Arboretum for some much needed “garden therapy.’   I drive on Glacier Highway past mile marker 23 and make a left onto the small parking lot, get out of the car, take a few steps and WHOA!– I am greeted by an explosion of fragrances, textures, flavors, and colors bursting out of 1.5 acres of carefully tended, pure waterfront magic.   I stop, breathe Read More …

City Girl Gone–How I Became an Alaska Gardener

RAISED BY CITY PEOPLE Raised by Amsterdam Dutch parents in Seattle, I grew up in a landscape surrounded by flowers. My family bought food fresh and in small quantities from the local market, bakeries and butchers. Quality bread, produce, meats and cheeses were a must. My father prepared gourmet meals for a family of six, complete with garnishments. Dinner was a semi-formal family affair. Semi-formal meaning we were expected to use proper table etiquette. We ate as a family around a solid oak table and the conversation was always fun Read More …

Sprouting Hearts: Instilling a love for gardening in foster kids in Wasilla Alaska

Twenty years ago I would have laughed at you if you said I’d be that lady standing in the middle of a garden with my sun hat, bending over and pulling weeds. Twenty years ago I was in high school, living in my 5th foster home, doing very well. I was in a stable environment, surrounded by an amazing network of people for the first time in a long time. Gardening wasn’t something I was familiar with–I had farming experience (bottle feeding calves and changing pipe) but nothing to really Read More …

Hands Up for More Veggies

FOOD FOR THOUGHT         As I look back I smile at the memory and the expression of enjoyment  on the faces of the young students  and their raised hands  as I  asked if they  wished for  more. They wanted more vegetables, more dishes created with vegetables and to grow more vegetables. I am a teachers aide at our local K-12 rural school, a parent of  three and an active volunteer in our community.   A few years  ago I was hired as a community food coordinator. Our Read More …

High Bush Cranberries

High bush cranberries are harder to make use of than their low bush cousins. They have a pit inside of them that makes them less appealing to throw in a batch of muffins or over the morning granola and are, at least to my tastebuds, tarter. Despite these limitations they are all over our neighborhood. Most people won’t reveal their super secret berry picking spots, but for high bush cranberries you can walk along many power-line cuts in Fairbanks for easy access to prime berry picking. In just under 30 Read More …

Subversive Food Plots–Then and Now

A Lesson Plan for Gardening in the Classroom in Alaska, by Jessica Mulvey, An Alaska Master Gardener “And he gave it for his opinion, ‘that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.’’ -Jonathan Swift A small kitchen garden. Photo by Heidi Rader. Throughout history, food production has been a driving force for Read More …

In Defense of Weeds

by Laura Emerson, an Alaskan Master Gardener    Chickweed overtakes this garden. Photo by Heidi Rader. Weeds get a bad rap.  But for the observant gardener, weeds can be a wonderful resource.     Many offer clues to the condition of the soil before you buy that expensive plant that will not do well where you want it.     Many deliver minerals to the vicinity of their growth or to your compost pile or to your pets and livestock or to you, if you choose to eat them.    Many have Read More …

“Where grows it not?’ Locally Grown Foods in Alaska

A Lesson Plan for Gardening in the Classroom in Alaska, By Jessica Mulvey, An Alaska Master Gardener    “Where grows? Where grows it not? If vain our toil, we ought to blame the culture, not the soil.’ -Alexander Pope The Tanana Valley Farmers Market. Photo by Heidi Rader. Supporting local agriculture is not a ‘new’ idea in American history. For generations there simply were no other options, but within the last century Americans have distanced themselves — literally & figuratively — from local agriculture. As Joel Salatin points out, “the Read More …