This gathering began in 2015 when commercial farmers and producers in Southeast Alaska decided to come together to learn from one another about producing local food in a challenging growing environment and how to bring these products to market. Since then, this summit has met every other year in a different community to reconnect, expand their knowledge, and share their experiences with a growing network of local food producers. The 2019 Southeast Alaska Farmer’s Summit is the third annual gathering for current commercial produce growers and for those who would like to explore this potential in our region. This event, held in 2019 in Sitka, is facilitated by the Sustainable Southeast Partnership and the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition.

Two people who attended the summit share their reflections here. 

Regarding the 2019 Southeast Farmers' conference;
Many thanks to Colin, Jennifer, and the whole summit committee for making this an enjoyable and productive event!
 
Facilities, accommodations, and food were excellent. Program and order of events was well structured and thought out which promoted good flow. To top it off, we were blessed with clear weather which made a Sitka visit perfect.
 
It was a pleasure for me to meet so many enthusiastic and experienced local growers. Many have figured out some novel way to beat the odds in this challenging, unique environment and most importantly, were willing to pass along their trade secrets!
 
My interest lies less in small garden technique and cultivar selection and more in the area of soil health. This was addressed many times by different ones. The soil health standouts to me are the presentations done by Middle Island Gardens, Farragut Farms, Orsi Organic Produce, and Cripple Creek Organics.
These all implement some form of film or cloth covering on their growing beds when not in production. The purpose was at least four-fold:
1-to maintain a good composting microenvironment for the layers of soil amendments put down after last harvest,
2-to suppress or eliminate weed growth,
3-to prevent soil compaction and nutrient loss by the rains
4-to increase soil surface temperature.
 
The composting and vermiculture presentations were quite informative.
I'd like to see more on the wood chip/ fish byproducts side as I feel this is particularly relevant in this region but just barely being tapped.
 
The micorrhizae and mushroom presentations were great too. Having a better understanding of what's taking place within our soils is no doubt helpful for all of us.
 
My favorite takeaway is the information gained from Eero Ruutila's cover crop presentation. The concepts and techniques he laid out were very accessible and from his scientific background he was able to provide the "why" as well as the "how". I anticipate that implementing some of the steps and procedures he outlined for us is going to have tremendous benefit.
 
With  the exception of a couple presentations the whole event had a very optimistic, promising feel to it that I'd like to see more of in the future. 
 
Thanks again to all who participated,
Lucas Clark
Game Creek Farm

Photo by Bethany Goodrich

Southeast Alaska is a place with such potential for increased agricultural sovereignty, and forming a farming community is a vital process to enable that growth. I feel so grateful for the opportunity to attend the farming convergence, a gathering that was well organized, practically informative, and vastly supportive. Getting to receive resources, wisdom, and human connection cemented my desire to grow food in southeast Alaska. I will be utilizing what I received for years to come, and hope to contribute my own results in the future!
I hope that the local food community of southeast Alaska will continue to grow and be supported, which I firmly believe it will after my experience at the convergence. 
In gratitude,
 
Duras 
Juneau, Alaska
 
Check out a story about Duras's farm in the Juneau Empire, 
https://www.juneauempire.com/news/juneau-woman-takes-over-indoor-farming-business/