Alaska Ethnobotany

Josh Smith, abstract and bio

Growing plants from the berries we pick

I have spend the last 3 years wild-harvesting multiple Vaccinium (blueberry/cranberry) species along with Rubus (aqpik and salmonberries). Through experimentation with stratification requirements and germination, I have figured out the details of germinating all of Alaska’s blueberry/cranberry (and aqpik/highbush salmonberries) species from fresh seed, and have been able to start early enough to result in sizable plants within 6 months (ready for outdoor transplant the spring after harvest). My goal is to not only propagate more myself, but help share the information with interested beings across the state!
In the face of climate change and growing food insecurity, it’s essential that more folks engage in the conversation of food security. Since subsistence harvesting is such an important piece to this for so many people, it is essential that we empower more folks to grow and replenish wild stands of these berry plants (especially with the uncertainty of climatic impacts) and plant native food species in garden spaces. No problem ever began with growing more native and delicious berries, and I hope the information I have collected can help more do that!

Josh Smith bio

Josh is a life long plant-enthusiast who grew up in North Pole, Alaska. While North Pole was a formidable challenge with his botanical passions, it really showcased to him the value of the beautiful native berries that thrived locally! Since graduating, and a stint in the Air Force, he landed in the Anchorage area, and decided that we really need to make native plants available within landscapes. When considering the challenges of climate change and food insecurity, figuring out how to grow more of these native beauties is essential. After years of experimenting, he has figured out a system for growing multiple blueberries and raspberries from seed, and hopes to get the information and materials out to fellow Alaskans to grow more native berries in their yards, gardens, and communities!