Solitude Springs Farm & VVineyard
6515 Reconstruction Rd., Fairbanks, Alaska 99709
Located in the hills northwest of Fairbanks, AK, we aim to bring fresh, locally grown produce to residents of lower Goldstream Valley and surrounding hills. 2014 will be our sixth year in production. The unique location of Solitude Springs Farm provides us with a longer frost-free season, warmer winter temperatures (USDA zone 3a), cooler summer days, and more summer rain than valley locations. These conditions help us provide local residents with fresh, flavorful, quality produce, as well as healthy seedlings for those who enjoy raising their own gardens. We use mainly organic methods on the farm and rely on the sun to provide over 90% of our annual electricity needs through the use of photovoltaic panels.
6th Annual Plant Sale
We will be hosting our annual plant sale on May 24th, 25th, 31st, and June 6th. We will have vegetable, flower, and herb seedlings, as well as peony plants and Quinalt strawberries for sale. The plant sale will be held at the gravel pit at 1 mile Murphy Dome Road (corner of Murphy Dome Road and Jennifer Drive. We will be there from 10 am to 7 pm each day for your shopping convenience. Prices will be the same as last year, with mix-n-match 6-packs for $2.50 each, 3-inch pots for $1 each, peonies for $8 each and strawberries for $1.50 each. See our blog for a list of the varieties of seedlings we have.
Here is a list of the varieties of plants we are testing on the farm (as of January 2014).
Friday Night Produce Stand
This will be our sixth year of selling produce. Starting in July, we will be selling produce on Friday evenings at the gravel pit at Jennifer Dr. and Murphy Dome Rd. Hours will vary somewhat, but generally will be from 5:00 pm to 8:30 pm. We will be offering various greens, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, peas, and beans most nights. Potatoes and carrots will be available in September. There might also be fruit, depending on the results of our trials. We will wrap up this coming season’s produce sales by early October.
Annual Gardening Workshop
We hosted a gardening workshop March 23rd at the Ken Kunkel Community Center. The workshop addressed hugelkultur (a type of mound gardening that is well suited to our area and resources), constructing root cellars, and growing fruit in the Goldstream Valley and surrounding Hills. Over 30 people attended! If you missed the workshop, we have posted the presentation handouts here.
Last year (2013) was not a particularly good year for the vineyard. Many of our grapevines died due to a lack of protection from the cold. Furthermore, we were unable to clear land to plant those that we purchased last spring. So . . . we will try again this year! Read our blog about the Farm & Vineyard to follow the progress we are making.
Geneva Pernell Exhibition Garden
This summer we hope to rough in the “Geneva Pernell Exhibition Garden” and hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony sometime in August. This new addition at Solitude Springs Farm represents the culmination of several years of gathering native and non-native plants, trialing them for hardiness and outstanding attributes, and the very generous and humble spirit of Geneva Pernell. Geneva went out of her way to provide the very first ‘Festiva Maxima’ peonies to our farm in the hopes that they would someday add joy to the lives of others both near and far. She did this even as her world was changing dramatically. In keeping with her spirit, last year Solitude Springs Farm & Vineyard began donating 10% of its proceeds to local and national breast cancer awareness campaigns. It is hoped that this garden will showcase what is possible to grow and enjoy in microclimates that abound in Interior Alaska, with a little faith and perseverance.
Other fruit ventures
We continue to expand the number of fruit varieties on the farm. Over the last three summers, we have planted rhubarb, currant, domesticated raspberry, blackberry, serviceberry, blueberry, and honeyberry varieties. We have also expanded our experimental plot of fruit trees and bushes to include apples, seaberries, kiwi, cherries, and apricots. With the harsh winter last year, we certainly found out which fruit varieties are better suited to the farm’s location – and it isn’t necessarily the most cold tolerant of them! We saw our first blackberries develop, but they didn’t ripen before the first frost. This year, with earlier varieties set to come into production, we could start offering blackberries at our produce stand. Cross your fingers! See the trial varieties list above for more information.
We are excited to join the growing number of Alaskans who raise and sell peony flowers to markets around the globe. We will be planting peonies starting this summer and hope to offer these gorgeous flowers for sale to local residents beginning in 2016.
AlaskaWine.org and CrestViewWinery.com
We recently acquired two additional domain names and will hopefully get some information up on them by the end of this summer. No real rush, though, as we aren’t making wine just yet. We hope that AlaskaWine.org will showcase the handful of small wineries in our great state, with the addition of Crest View Winery when it is time.
Pictures of the ‘garden’ (left), a late summer thunderstorm from the vineyard (center), and subarctic tomatoes in the greenhouse (right,).
Updated May 21, 2014