Monday, August 3, 2009

Mission of Palmer research center expands

SNRAS will reveal a new direction for its research facility in Palmer (pictured at left) at an Aug. 6 showcase and celebration.

Since 1915, the Matanuska Experiment Farm has been the center for agricultural research in the Matanuska Valley, and will now be the setting for the Palmer Center for Sustainable Living. “We are embarking on an exciting program that has great potential,” UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences Dean Carol Lewis said. “The focus on research, education and outreach will apply to modern Alaska, both rural and urban, and will meet the needs of southcentral Alaska and its growing population.

UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers and Matanuska-Susitna Borough Mayor Talis Colberg will speak at the Aug. 6 event. Guests of honor include Jay Kerttula and family. The research lab at the farm was named in honor of Kerttula, a former state senator who supported agriculture, a year ago and a plaque in his honor will be presented and placed at the event.

Tours of the biomass energy research and development lab, Kerttula Hall and the distance delivery center will be offered that afternoon, as well as hayrides to Matanuska Lake. The 1,000-acre center features field horticulture, hay production, organic fields, animal pastures, turfgrass demonstration plots, controlled environments and wildlife nutrition research. It encompasses the Matanuska Experiment Farm, Kerttula Hall, the Matanuska Colony History Center and the Alaska Environmental Studies and Learning Park.

While the Aug. 6 event is for invited guests, there will be future opportunities for public tours of the facility, which is used for community classes and events. The trail system is the setting for running and bicycling races throughout the summer.

Dean Lewis said, “The Palmer Center for Sustainable Living was created to help generate new ideas and new directions by embodying research, instruction and outreach in a stimulating environment that showcases the history of and new innovations in agriculture in the Matanuska Valley and at the Matanuska Experiment Farm.

“The center invites Alaskans and visitors to take advantage of lifelong learning activities and the recreational opportunities in a setting that shows how multiple land and resource uses can be compatible and sustainable. It provides people with stimulating opportunities for engagement with cutting edge research and experiences in Alaska.”

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