Friday, June 12, 2009

Fair garden showcases SNRAS research

Professor Meriam Karlsson and graduate student Yosuke Okada plant "Bodacious" sweet corn at the fairgrounds garden

In a new endeavor, UAF horticulturists are lending their expertise to the Tanana Valley Fair this year. Professor Meriam Karlsson, Research Professional Jeff Werner, and graduate student Yosuke Okada planted the demonstration garden near the fair’s agricultural museum in early June.

“We wanted the garden to demonstrate the most commonly grown crops in Alaska,” Dr. Karlsson said. A small patch planted by Research Assistant Bob Van Veldhuizen showcases the most popular grains grown in Alaska, including barley, wheat, oats, and rye. Van Veldhuizen also planted a row of a new variety of flower he helped develop, the Midnight Sun-flower. “So many kids don’t know what grains look like; this way they will get to see them,” Karlsson said.

The rest of the 24 x 32 foot garden has potatoes, broccoli, kale, cabbage, collards, corn, carrots, beans, squash, cauliflower, onions, celery, and herbs. The plants got their start in Karlsson’s greenhouse and controlled environment research lab on campus. By the time the fair opens Aug. 7 the crops should be nearing their peak. Thousands of fairgoers will learn more about SNRAS research from the garden and its accompanying informational placards.

Fair Manager Randi Carnahan said, “I'm so excited to work with such experts in the agricultural community. This year's fairgoers will find the variety of items that can be planted and grown here to be very interesting." This is a Tanana Valley State Fair Alaska Grown Cooperative Marketing Project supported by the Alaska Division of Agriculture in partnership with UAF Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station and UAF Collegiate FFA.

Food raised in the garden will be used for special events, distributed to fair volunteers, and donated to local agencies.
Further reading:

"New sunflower is for the birds," SNRAS Science & News, Feb. 10, 2009, by Bob Van Veldhuizen.

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