Robert Gibson of Cooper Landing picks barley by hand at a small barley field planted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough in a vacant gravel pit on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Cooper Landing, Alaska. Gibson uses three different methods to pick the barley, including using a scythe and a hand sickle. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Robert Gibson of Cooper Landing picks barley by hand at a small barley field planted by the Kenai Peninsula Borough in a vacant gravel pit on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in Cooper Landing, Alaska. Gibson uses three different methods to pick the barley, including using a scythe and a hand sickle. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Borough seeks to grow local agriculture

Borough forming agricultural land program, seeking letters

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is working on a new agricultural land program, which will turn locally owned spaces into productive agricultural land, according to a Jan. 30 media release from the borough’s land management division. This new effort has been coined the Kenai Peninsula Agricultural Initiative.

“In short, the borough is looking to connect its good Ag land with the people who will be doing agricultural production into the future,” Marcus Mueller, the borough’s land manager, writes in the media release.

On the Kenai Peninsula, agriculture is a growing industry, which the borough is working to further progress with its agricultural initiative. The release said the borough has seen an increase in public interest for the quality of local products, the use of locally grown foods in area restaurants and farmers markets. As the need for more locally grown food increases, the need for affordable and effective farmland will also grow.

“The borough is seeing this emergence of activity as a new era in agricultural system development, which may in ways be unique to the Kenai and our growing state,” the release said. “Several new terms are becoming part of common conversations. Words like peonies, Rhodiola, hemp, and high tunnels expand the vocabulary on the Kenai and with those are created new opportunities. Access to local vegetables are talked about as the ingredients to healthy communities.”

The program is still in the preliminary stage, and the borough is looking to connect with interested farmers to better understand what they might need should the land be made available.

“A maze of considerations need to be sorted through to end up with a land offering method that works well for the farmer and that meets people’s expectations for managing lands on the long term,” the release said. “…The borough needs to hear from those people who are apt to be looking for new agricultural land so that it can bring forward the kinds of land offerings that are most likely to work out.”

The borough is calling for letters of interest from people looking for new agricultural land. Letters should include the size and general location of needed land, and time frames for production goals.

Letters should be addressed to KPB Land Manager, 144 North Binkley St., Soldotna AK 99669. More information can be found at kpb.us/land

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