Grant program aims to cultivate specialty crops across Alaska

The Alaska Division of Agriculture is seeking applicants for a federal grant program targeting specialty crops around the state.

Alaskans can receive grants of up to $60,000 for projects that “enhance the competitiveness of Alaska Grown specialty crops, sustain farmers’ livelihoods, and strengthen local communities,” according to a statement from the division.

“We’re looking to connect with producers,” said Lyssa Frohling, a Division of Agriculture grant coordinator. “We’re looking to connect with nonprofits, schools, basically any business that can demonstrate a project that will benefit Alaska farmers and producers and specifically the specialty crop producers.”

What’s a specialty crop? They can include fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and even horticulture, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Frohling said past Alaska grant recipients have included a wide range of projects.

“There’s a rhubarb variety trial project going down in Southeast Alaska; we also funded a peony project that’s studying a lot of storage — like cold storage of peony crops — and then also dealing with thrips, which is a big pest that peony producers are trying to deal with in Alaska,” Frohling said.

The state is planning to hold an informational teleconference for potential applicants on Jan 16 from 10-11 a.m. and Jan. 23 from 2-3 p.m. The deadline to submit a letter of intent for the grant is Feb. 11, and the final deadline is March 25. Click here for teleconference and application details.