Alaska Greenhouse Handbook Story Reaches Over 500 News Outlets Nationwide

Alaska Greenhouse Handbook Story Reaches Over 500 News Outlets Nationwide

In April during the 2017 Alaska Wood Energy Conference, the Biomass Greenhouse Handbook was officially released to the public. A subsequent tour of biomass-heated greenhouses in Southeast Island School District (SISD) on Prince of Wales Island showcased some of the handbook’s featured installations, and more importantly showed that a little determination can lead to an amazing success story.

The success story of SISD and the new Biomass Greenhouse Handbook took on a life of its own with the help of Anchorage Associated Press journalist Rachel D’Oro. The news story exceeded expectations of the biomass working group. Alaska Energy Authority’s Devany Plentovich noted that the story had reached over 523 individual news outlets nationwide.

D’Oro’s story told how a school district used a change in heating from expensive, imported diesel fuel to heating with locally available wood resources spurred the growth of a local aquaponics greenhouse industry, and ultimately the starting point of the handbook.

Michael Shephard of United States Forest Service in Anchorage says of the news attention, “It is not a surprise at all given that people embrace the idea of vibrant rural communities, childhood nutrition, enhanced educational opportunities, saving public money, and food/energy security. This was emblematic of this Associated Press story being picked up by over 500 news organizations across the country.”

The Biomass Greenhouse Handbook was the result of a year of research into Alaska’s successful biomass-heated greenhouse installations. The handbook, commissioned by the Alaska Energy Authority and funded by the United States Forest Service and the State of Alaska, was produced by the Cold Climate Housing Research Center with project partners the University of Alaska Fairbanks, REAP, Grow Southeast, and the Southeast Island School District.

The Biomass Greenhouse Handbook can be found here.

Coffman Cove Student stands with hydroponic lettuce during a tour of the SISD greenhouses. Photo by A. Byrd/ACEP.