With all the rain and ice making for a pretty dismal winter in Willow, I wanted to go see how spring was progressing in Hatcher Pass. I drove up April second, but not having four-wheel drive- when I got into slushy snow about a mile past the winter gate, I parked and switched to skis. My dogs-Lyra and Darby- were thrilled, but I soon found that the ice bridges across the creek had all collapsed and I couldn’t get out where I wanted to go. I had to pick my way along on top of the snow machine trail beside the road. That wasn’t much fun, and after about a mile and a half, I turned back. I decided to make the trip again later in the month.
by: Katie Writer – KTNA
When Talkeetna residents think of what goes on at the Grove, they often think of live music, community gatherings, and micro-greens. This past year, owners Mindy and Graham Knapp have added to the Bare Hands Farm.
KTNA’s Katie Writer took a walk around the property with Graham and Mindy.
Graham and Mindy’s long-term vision of creating a permaculture environment is taking shape in Talkeetna. Permaculture is the attempt to assimilate or utilize the patterns and features of nature in agriculture.
Graham and Mindy are using the land in a manner that best suits the lay of the land as well and the natural resources available.
There are a lot of steps to building upon visions and ideas. Yet, with each effort put forth, there is a lot of satisfaction in planting and digging in the earth. Graham has dug trenches and filled them with dead trees that will in the long run hold water as well as add nutrients to the soil.
At Bare Hands Farm, the animals require considerable time and care. In return, they offer milk, eggs, and meat. One of the greatest commodities from raising pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, and rabbits is often overlooked: Fertilizer…the ripe but necessary ingredient to farming.
In addition, Graham is excited about other benefits from the grazing and ground compaction from their pigs and goats.
“So, we had our pigs down in this little depression on our property. We had learned of a technique where you can put pigs or ducks in an area, and they will [compact it].”
Pigs seem to have the most personality and Gretel, who was just a wee little piglet is now nurturing her nine piglets. When she was a single pig, she made her way into the chicken pen.
“All the animals get along pretty well. The chickens and the ducks live together…Gretel was by herself for a lot of the winter, and she would nose her way into the chickens, through the chicken wire. The chickens would come and hang out with Gretel, and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, the pig is going to eat the chickens,’ but I think she just wanted the company.”
The other main product on Bare Hands Farm is micro-greens. They offer CSA Farm Shares with their greens.
“It’s really nice being here in the middle of the winter, and there’s things growing, but I’m really actually anxious to turn the lights of and put them in the sun to get some of that free energy…I started a CSA microgreens program this winter, and it’s gone really well. I have just enough customers, and I’ll be able to take on a lot more since I have more room outside, of course.”
When we stepped into the micro-green growing room, two things stuck out in my mind. There was a peacefulness in viewing vibrant plants in comparison to the rowdy farm yard. The plants, unlike the pigs, don’t knock over their water. Also, the greens are an easy meal in comparison to milking a goat.
Update: The fire, officially called the Sunrise Fire, has grown to between twelve and fifteen acres. Winds are reported as “erratic.”
Mat-Su Borough and Alaska Division of Forestry firefighters are currently fighting a wildfire in the Meadow Lakes area. On Wednesday afternoon, a grassfire between seven and ten acres in size spread into an area wooded with black spruce, according to borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan.
The Division of Forestry has taken command of the firefighting effort, and air and ground resources have been deployed, including a tanker plane.
As of Wednesday evening, no evacuations or road closures have been reported, although a temporary flight restriction is in place, and authorities ask that general aviation aircraft avoid the area. A map of the fire’s location is available at KTNA.org.
Cardboard recycling in the Upper Valley is one step closer to becoming a reality. At Monday night’s meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board of directors, recycling committee chair Katie Writer announced that the program has received a grant of $10,000 from Matanuska Electric Association’s Operation Roundup program. Each year, MEA gives members an option to round their bills up to the nearest dollar. Then, MEA distributes that money to individuals and organizations through a grant process.
Katie Writer says the grant is enough to put a deposit on a cardboard baler. Additional funds are needed for construction of a shelter for the baler and the cardboard to protect them from the elements. Once fundraising is completed, Moore’s Hardware has agreed to donate labor, house the baler and the cardboard, and transport the cardboard bales.
Talkeetna’s current recycling program through the Mat-Su Borough’s transfer site, is aimed at saving the borough money in the long run by reducing what goes into the landfill. The cardboard recycling project would do the same thing, but it is also possible to sell bales of cardboard to recyclers. Katie Writer hopes that money would be enough to pay someone to oversee the baler and maintain the program into the future.
Also at the meeting, Writer announced that locations have been selected for three of the four bear-proof recycling containers that will go Downtown. The containers were donated by the National Park Service. One container will reside at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, one at the Village Park, and the third at the campground on Main Street. Sassan Mosannen, general manager of Denali Brewing Company, expressed interest in housing the fourth container, but no final determination has been made.
Events in the night sky for the whole month of May are covered, including three celestial objects visible to late night sky observers, an explanation of why May Day is the appropriate first day of summer, the moon’s location and resulting tides, Jupiter’s movement in the second week of May, the transit of Mercury, the full moon of May, and Mars at opposition.
The former Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board member whose seat was vacated says she has her residency documents sorted out.
At its April meeting, the board members present voted three-to-two to seat Geri McCann on the TCCI board. After the meeting, questions arose as to whether McCann is a current resident of Talkeetna.
Geri McCann says she lived in Talkeetna for twenty years before moving to Palmer, and that she moved back to Talkeetna in 2014. While other residents have vouched for her residency, some official records still showed her as living in Palmer as of the April 4th meeting.
An after-school program at the Talkeetna library is bringing together young students and adult community members to promote literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading. KTNA’s Phillip Manning visited the program earlier this week, and has this report.
Learning to read is one of the most important things children do in their first few years of school. Literacy is an indicator not only of how well a student will do during Kindergarten through 12th Grade, but also into their adult lives. In Talkeetna, a new program is helping to give some Upper Valley students an extra boost into reading proficiency.
Talkeetna Elementary art teacher and Title I Reading Specialist Bekah Mathiessen came up with the idea for the program.
“Right after school, the kids get bused here. It’s a new stop on the bus route, which is pretty awesome. And people from the community come to read with about sixteen Kindergarten to 2nd Grade kids.”
Revenue sharing voting has begun in Trapper Creek. Revenue sharing funds come from the state to the Mat-Su Borough, which then allows community councils to distribute them. Four items are on this year’s ballot, including the Upper Susitna Food Pantry, operating expenses for the Trapper Creek Park and Cemetery, Winter Trail Grooming, and Youth Conservation Corps. Trapper Creek voters will be able to rank the projects by priority. Full funding will be awarded based on projects that receive the highest priority from voters.
Trapper Creek residents may vote at the Trapper Creek Library during regular business hours through May 14th.