Domestic Berry Trials
The village-based portion of these trials had the following goals:
- Evaluating winter survivability, palatability, and potential for home and small commercial use of several domestic berry varieties, some of which are not commonly grown in Interior Alaska,
- Evaluating community interest in different vegetable crops (both garden and small greenhouse) for distribution to elders, use in nutrition programs, or through cooperative or marketing venues, and
- Developing information sheets and spreadsheet calculators to help people evaluate the costs and benefits of small village agricultural enterprises.
Nenana, Tanacross, Minto, Galena, Holy Cross and McGrath participated. Village-based volunteers and their willingness to develop, plant and tend the gardens were essential to the project’s success. Because these trials were carried out in the villages, both vegetables and berries were grown under conditions common to village gardens, as opposed to the more controlled and care-intensive conditions typical in research trials. Therefore, trial plants were planted in rocky soil, often fill, with little organic matter, watered only by rainfall, infrequently weeded, not treated for pests, and received no additional enhancements such as frost protection, weed block, or mulch to warm the soil.