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July 2019


Big thanks and shout out to Ron and Brenda Bridges of the Tennessee AgrAbility project. While traveling to Alaska for their wedding anniversary vacation, they took the time to stop over and spend some time with some of the Alaska AgrAbility team. They visited with the AgrAbility team in Fairbanks and the surrounding area June 7-10. Meet & greets were scheduled along with farm tours to give Ron & Brenda a feel for farming in Alaska. Ron and Brenda had the opportunity to meet with farmer veterans and talk to them about AgrAbility and the advantages of starting a Farmer Veteran Coalition (FVC) state chapter.

They had the opportunity to meet with a soil scientist at UAF about bio char. They toured a veteran-owned peony farm and heard about growing challenges and best practices being implemented with a peony growers co-op. They got to hear firsthand the challenges that come with living and farming in the far north and the demands on shipping and packing flowers for international market sales.

On Sunday, June 9, they traveled to Chena Hot Springs where they experienced greenhouses running solely off grid on a geothermal power grid.

On their last day in Alaska, Ron traveled with Art Nash to the Delta Junction region and toured a very large cattle and hay/grain farm. Before attending a meet & greet session with veterans and their families, a stop in at a local yak farm and local meat processing facility were in order.

The Alaska AgrAbility project was honored to have the Bridges visit its great state and discuss the benefits and challenges of farming that are of special importance to veterans.

Ron & Brenda Bridges with Ron and Marjji IllingworthNorth Pole Peonies farmIn the pictures, Ron & Brenda Bridges were visiting with Ron & Marji Illingworth at North Pole Peonies. North Pole Peonies is a local veteran owned peony farm outside of North Pole, Alaska. Ron & Marji Illingworth were instrumental in starting the Arctic Alaska Peonies Cooperative. Marji Illingworth is currently the chair of the Alaska Peony Growers Association (APGA). APGA is a membership organization comprised of commercial peony growers as well as those interested in the emerging industry in Alaska.

For more information on APGA visit:

Submitted by DeShana York