Alaska Homegrown

The Veggie Bus came to town yesterday. And Joe dug his potatoes. And we caught a couple of fish.

It was one of the best days of the year.

September can be difficult for me. The first autumn I was in Alaska, I remember standing in the produce section at Save-U-More, holding back tears. In my heart and soul, I am still a farm girl from Michigan (where you can grow just about everything except citrus, avocadoes, and mangoes), and five years ago I still felt pretty raw, missing my homeground. September is a time for vine-ripened tomatoes, a surfeit of zucchini, sweet corn, bell peppers, peaches, homemade pickles, early apples… What was I doing here in Alaska? In September!? Standing there looking at the weary produce shipped in from California, Mexico, New Zealand, and who-knows-where was enough to make me weep. It’s one of the things that was almost a deal-breaker for me. Rough-hewn, frontier Alaska: spruce-stumps in mud, glacier-grit, rocks, horsetails growing up through sodden garden plots, late frosts, early frosts. Farming, or even gardening, in Alaska is not for the faint of heart.

Since then, my palate has adapted. I’ve learned to love potatoes, kale, carrots, and onions on a deeper level than ever before. And I have encountered some dedicated – you might even say genius – gardeners. Cindy G., who knows how to coax tomatoes to ripeness in Eagle, Alaska, 64.78 degrees north, where low temps in the winter hit 60 below zero. Chris, embarking on a hydroponic strawberry farm project, with faith and southern exposure carved out of the edge of the woods. Joe, growing six varieties of potatoes in a rainbow of colors. Tobben and Tania, spending years (probably decades) transforming seaweed and chicken manure into rich compost. And this new guy I just met yesterday, Jeff Babitt, of the Veggie Bus. Thank you. Ya’ll have restored my faith in locally-grown food. It really is possible here.

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Alaska Marine Highway Ferry TUSTUMENA, docked in Seldovia. What has this to do with homegrown produce? The ferry brought us the Veggie Bus!

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Veggie Bus getting a lift up from the car deck on the TUSTY.

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Jeff with his homegrown garlic.

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All the produce is $3 a pound, weighed on the scale with the blue tote.

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Just a sample of all the Veggie Bus has to offer.

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Ivan really liked this pumpkin.

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Jeff grows German Butterball potatoes…

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…and Joe grows Myrnas. They swapped a few, so they can each try growing a new variety next year.

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Joe with his six kinds of potatoes!

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We capped off the day by bringing home a couple of nice halibut. Along with homegrown potatoes and a cucumber salad, Carla made us a perfect all-local meal for an Alaska September day.

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This entry was posted in Alaska, Boats, Culture, Seldovia, Subsistence, Uncategorized, Work and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Alaska Homegrown

  1. Joe Fleckenstein says:

    Thanks Cindy for great article and thanks Jim Hopkins for letting me use a piece of his ground of which I have none because I live hanging over a cliff

    Like

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