Talk Dirt To Me

Gardening in Alaska presents big challenges, whether it's the extra effort in finding plants tough enough to survive our Zone 2-4 climate, communicating with like-minded Alaska gardeners, or keeping up with the latest trends, issues and solutions. We'll try to help with that. We'll also tour gardens from Homer to Anchorage to Wasilla to Willow whenever we get the chance, and post the best garden photos around. Presenting a forum about cold-weather gardening and for cold-weather gardeners is what we are all about. We hope you'll join us on the Talk Dirt garden blog.

Photographer and gardener Fran Durner (fdurner@adn.com) writes the blog.

February Garden Calendar - 1/29/2010 9:28 am

UA Anchorage recognized as a Tree Campus USA - 1/27/2010 10:36 am

Stone walls provide beauty and exercise - 1/26/2010 8:43 am

USDA program for high tunnels offered - 1/25/2010 8:08 pm

Worms could eat your garbage too - 1/24/2010 8:01 pm

Wildflower Garden Club offers annual scholarship - 1/21/2010 1:08 pm

Where did you find inspiration last year? - 1/19/2010 3:57 pm

Zaumseils say farewell for now - 1/18/2010 3:57 pm

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Image courtesy Carol Lambert.Image courtesy Carol Lambert.Picture this: A plain white van drives across the intersection in front of you while you are stopped at a light. You hardly notice it at all, it is so nondescript and the roads hold dozens of these indistinguishable vans. Now think of that same van gleaming with side panels of luscious giant-sized vegetables arranged as a still life, brightly painted in saturated colors. The design looks something like an old fashioned seed packet with pea tendril curlicues framing the corners. Your eyes follow it across the intersection, straining to read the print before it fades out of view - Glacier Valley Farm CSA, Community Suppported Agriculture based in Alaska.

The idea for decorating the van was born last summer during the South Anchorage Farmers Market. Alison Arians of Rise & Shine Bakery mused aloud to painter Carol Lambert, "Wouldn't it be great if we had huge vegetable paintings on this van," refering to the plain box van farmer Arthur Keyes uses to bring his produce to market and to distribute to CSA customers in Anchorage, Eagle River and Palmer.

Image courtesy Carol Lambert.Image courtesy Carol Lambert.One thing of course led to another. Alison applied for a State of Alaska Division of Agriculture marketing grant and received it in the early spring this year. Carol then had to scramble to find good looking fresh vegetable for her paintings in April, way before Alaska produce is ready. She produced one 12" X 24" painting in April and the second in May.

Artist Carol Lambert looks over the design mock ups for the vegetable van. Photo by Fran DurnerArtist Carol Lambert looks over the design mock ups for the vegetable van. Photo by Fran DurnerLambert, who is known for her lovely still life paintings of vegetables, fruits and everyday items as well as for her plein air paintings, had subscribed to Keyes weekly boxes of farm goods throughout the year. View the evolution of the paintings on Lambert's website.

Natalie Snyder of GraphicWorks, right, shows Carol Lambert, left, and Alison Arians, middle, how the laminated panels will adhere to the side of the van. Photo by Fran Durner.Natalie Snyder of GraphicWorks, right, shows Carol Lambert, left, and Alison Arians, middle, how the laminated panels will adhere to the side of the van. Photo by Fran Durner.Alison and Carol brought the project to Natalie Snyder of GraphicWorks who had the idea for the look of the old fashioned seed packet. GraphicWorks will print the sign on three laminated vinyl panels per painting, which will then be applied to the van.

The result? Soon a beautifully illustrated moving promotion bringing Alaska Grown produce to the attention of every passing motorist, and then some. I love it when art, gardening and good food combine to produce a masterpiece!

PS: Here's the finished van in August. Nice job everyone!
Photo courtesy Alison AriansPhoto courtesy Alison Arians
Photo courtesy Alison AriansPhoto courtesy Alison Arians

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