Have you ever wondered what negative forty degrees below zero might feel like?
However, I had the pleasure of experiencing such cold during my recent trip to Fairbanks, Alaska where I gave the opening keynote address at the 2015 Alaska Peonies Growers Association Conference. It was negative forty-one degrees when I landed at 10:30pm on Thursday evening. I’ll never forget what it felt like walking out of the airport when the automatic door opened and I met that cold air for the first time. Truly breathtaking.
Each time I shared that I was heading to Alaska to speak to the Alaska Peonies Growers Association, I would get a funny look and the same question, “they grow flowers in Alaska?”
It was a great opportunity for me to meet some very enthusiastic flower farmers who feel very confident about their future success in growing peonies in Alaska. I was asked to give the “State of the Industry” during my keynote while sharing the values and virtues of the Certified American Grown program. I also challenged this group of Alaskan flower farmers to become one of the top seven states for U.S. cut flower production. They have a ways to go, but with all of the rootstock being put in the ground up there, once production kicks in, they should be able to eclipse Florida’s cut flower production in just a few years while they work their way to becoming one of the top seven cut flower farming state.
Almost 200 people attended the three day conference in Fairbanks. Many of the attendees were there to learn about the business of growing peonies. Historically, Alaska has faced natural and economic barriers to market in their agricultural ventures. However, one attendee described the burgeoning peonies opportunity as Alaska’s last “gold rush.” Currently farms are able to get $3-4 to $10 per stem during their production season that stretches from late June to September.
Five farms from Alaska are already Certified American Grown:
Joslyn Peonies, AK
Go See These Peonies!
Subzero temperatures may not sound very inviting to most. However, there is a hot party planned for celebrating peonies this summer. Debra Prinzing of SlowFlowers.com and Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers are hosting a “Peony Party” in Homer, Alaska in July. Go to their website and check it out.