Alaska Growers School Course Outline (Tentative)
September 24 to December 17, 2014
Lesson 1: Whole Farm Business Planning or Mapping
The focus of this lesson will include an overview of risk management and how understanding, assessing, and managing risk is an important tool that can lead to a sustainable, profitable business. This lesson will also introduce business planning which you will work on throughout the course. “A vision without a plan is just a dream. A plan without a vision is just drudgery. But a vision with a plan can change the world” (old proverb). In this lesson, you will learn about identifying and articulating a vision for you farm including prioritizing goals and objectives. You will work on a business plan throughout the course in consultation with the Instructor and guest presenters.
Lesson 2: Financial Management: Developing a Good Record Keeping System and Understanding Financial Statements Plus Taxes
This lesson will emphasize the importance of record keeping for managing financial risk. Balance sheets, statement of owner’s equity, income statements, and cash flow statements will be covered in this presentation. Available financial management tools will be discussed to help you find a record keeping system that works for you.
Lesson 3: Identifying your Market Strategy, Target Market, and More
In this lesson, you will learn how to identify available markets, your target market, competitors and competitive advantage, marketing strategies, and branding We will cover marketing strategies such as bartering, farm stands, farm to store, farm to school, farmer’s markets, and Community Shared Agriculture, E-commerce, and export markets; as well as marketing tools such as Alaska Grown®, Silver Hand Program: Authentic Native Handicraft from Alaska®, Made in Alaska®, or Made by American Indians. You will evaluate and choose a marketing strategy that will be incorporated into your business plan.
Lesson 4: Growing Vegetables in Alaska
This lesson will discuss appropriate plant varieties for Alaska, diversifying crops, using appropriate technologies, harvesting, and food production, and integrated pest management.
Lesson 5: Growing Fruits and Berries in Alaska
This lesson will discuss managing the production risks of berry and fruit crops well suited to Alaska, reasons to grow them, and important considerations for these crops.
Lesson 6: Season Extension and Greenhouses in Alaska
This lesson will cover the importance of season extension techniques for managing risks associated with unpredictable weather. A variety of season extension techniques including frost cloth, low and high tunnels, plastic mulch and greenhouses will be discussed. We will discuss how season extension technology can improve yields, allow you to diversify crops, and improve reliability. Greenhouses or season extension technologies can increase crop production through improved reliability and a longer production season.
Lesson 7: Raising Poultry in Alaska
This lesson will discuss the potential benefits and risks of raising poultry in Alaska. Ideal chicken breeds for Alaska, how to hatch and care for chicks, costs and type of equipment needed, nutritional requirements, diseases and parasites, cold weather considerations, and chicken behavior will be discussed.
Lesson 8: Raising Livestock in Alaska
This lesson will discuss costs, time commitment, types, space required, nutrition, health care, and other considerations of raising livestock in Alaska.
Lesson 9: Preserving and Adding Value to Alaskan Products
This lesson will discuss food safety issues as well as canning, making jam, drying, freezing, fermenting, pickling, and making sausage and jerky as value-added products.
Lesson 10: From the Forest to the Marketplace
This lesson discusses non-timber forest products that can be harvested for sale or personal use and how to add value to products including herbs, teas, morels, medicine, and berries and more.
Lesson 11: Tools of the Trade: New and Old Technologies
This lesson will explore old and new tools and technologies and help participants understand when it is appropriate for them to invest in the latest thing. For example, seeders and planters, fencing, tilling, alternative energies, irrigation methods, weed management, and more.
Lesson 12: Identifying Needs and Finding Resources
In this lesson, you will evaluate your needs and which resources (land, grants, loans, programs, expertise, financing, and technical assistance) are can help you achieve goals.