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Extension Grant Aimed at Rural Food Production



Fairbanks, Alaska—The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service has received a $411,256 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to develop and deliver a course called the Alaskan Growers School in rural Alaska.

The three-year grant was awarded through USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. Project director Heidi Rader, tribes Extension educator at the Tanana Chiefs Conference, said the course will help Alaska Natives in remote communities grow food to complement traditional subsistence activities. The course will provide the knowledge and skills necessary for participants to grow enough food for themselves and 10 other families.

“This could have a big impact on villages where food is very expensive and fresh vegetables are limited,” said Rader.

Part of the curriculum will be adapted from the existing Alaska Master Gardener online course. Initially, the course will be offered through several distance-delivery methods to evaluate the preferred method for rural Alaska. A 40-hour apprenticeship at Calypso Farm and Ecology Center will also be developed and offered to participants.

The grant also supports the development of an advanced growers school that would provide the knowledge and skills necessary to raise livestock, export value-added products, preserve food, start a business and access USDA grants and programs.

The target audience for the program is Alaska Natives living in villages, especially villages that are inaccessible by roads, said Rader. Residents of the Tanana Chiefs Conference region will be recruited first, followed by tribal members in other regions.
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