Written by Marie Boisvert, Education Coordinator for Takshanuk Watershed Council as a participant in the 2019 Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit

Relocating to Southeast Alaska from Vermont left me feeling slightly concerned about my farming future. Vermont boasts a vibrant young farmer community, enviable farmland and abundant avenues to
afford the farmland. Southeast Alaska is, well, a little different.

My experience at the Southeast Alaska Farmers Summit allowed me to look at the land around me with new, curious eyes. Like the dedicated farmers at Middle Island Farm in Sitka or Farragut Farm north of Petersburg, maybe I can turn an unlikely plot of land into a productive garden. The grit and sweat equity that Southeast farmers pour into their land and businesses showed me that bucolic land should not be a prerequisite for starting a farm or garden in Alaska.

In addition to general inspiration to be more of a farmer bad-ass, key information from the Summit that I will apply to my work with the Haines School Garden includes new techniques for growing cucumbers and zucchini in a greenhouse. This year I will select parthenocarpic varieties that can set fruit without pollination and I will create a new trellising system.

I also connected briefly with Marja and Bo of Farragut Farm and am looking forward to working at their operation for a couple weeks this summer. The opportunity to attend this year’s Summit boosted my enthusiasm for farming possibilities we can achieve in this beautiful, unique growing climate.

Thank you to all the organizers and presenters for generously sharing your Southeast secrets so that our farming community will continue to thrive.