Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at kcapps@newsminer.com, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

$5 challenge

A new program intended to boost food access and security in Fairbanks operates on the idea that a little from everyone goes a long way.

That is the basis of the new $5 Golden Heart Grown Challenge. It’s the local version of a long-ago campaign by the Alaska Division of Agriculture, this time operated by the Interior Alaska Food Network.

The Interior Alaska Food Network is a regional sub-group of the Alaska Food Policy Council, with participating members from Fairbanks Soil and Water Conservation District, Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, Alaska DEC, Fairbanks Community Food Bank, Tanana Valley Farmers Market, Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, and more individual farmers and organizations interested in food access and security.

With the current coronavirus pandemic, the group has been looking at ways to strengthen the local food system and decided to issue the local $5 challenge. This is based off the notion that if everyone in the borough spent $5 a week on locally-grown produce or products for a year, it would generate $23 million for the local economy.

“That would be quite a shock to our currently small agricultural industry,” said Michelle Deckard, project manager with the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation. 

Even if a small number of residents participated in this program, it could make a big difference, she added.

Of course, many residents are already loyal customers at Farmer’s Markets. The key is reaching those who currently do not purchase produce at Farmer’s Market. Plans are still being developed to try to reach those people.

It might include an online pledge. Watch here for future details as the program unfolds.

That $23 million statistic was calculated through recent data for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

“This level of consumer spending would immensely grow the agriculture sector in our community, even if only a small portion of borough residents completed the challenge,” Deckard said.

 

Drive through peonies

Here’s a great way to support the Georgeson Botanical Garden — especially if you love peonies. It’s the COVID-19 version of the garden’s annual peony fundraiser.

Here’s how it works. You go online here https://squareup.com/store/georgeson-

bot-gdn-soc, order flowers and pay online. Check or cash also accepted.

For $50 you receive two dozen short-stemmed peonies. The first dozen is available today and the second dozen is available on July 28.

Drive to the Artisan’s Courtyard parking lot on College Road and Westwood Way and pick up your flowers from 5-8 p.m. Just drive up to the Peony Station, remain in your car, and accept your peonies. With your name already on the list, this is an easy process.

 

Support pollinators

The Georgeson Botanical Garden Society is also raising money and awareness of the pollinators who make the garden their habitat. To do this, the group partnered with the Tanana Valley Watershed Association.

Together, they are selling natural-wood butterflies that you can decorate and then return. The butterfly will be placed on display a the garden.

“Fun prizes and notoriety await the winning artists,” according to the press release. 

Sales started July 6, but there’s still time to order at https://squareup.com/store/georgeson-botanical-garden. You will be offered several different levels of support. Sign in, pick up your butterfly, decorate it, and then drop it off at the Tanana Valley Watershed Association office at 909 Cushman St, the LLC Building across from City Hall.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at kcapps@newsminer.com. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.