Stories about building a life in the Alaskan wilderness
SEASON II: Introduction
On season two, agriculture in rural Alaska and what climate change could mean for its future. Here you’ll get some of the complicated story of Alaska agriculture from the perspective of Alaska farmers. It’s a story full of failure and innovation, one that defies stereotypes and looks quite a bit different from the mono-crop agriculture that dominates the lower 48.
On this episode, we'll travel to the southeastern Alaska town of Haines, where farmland is scarce. There we'll meet two beginning farmers using all the persistence and optimism they can muster to start farms and nudge a budding local food movement. We'll talk about the lessons farming teaches about the natural world--for children and adults. And we'll discuss what it's like to farm in a place without a strong agricultural tradition.
The Mixing Zone
On this episode, we'll meet Nasugraq Rainey Hopson. She and her project Gardens in the Arctic live in Anaktuvuk Pass, about 90 miles north of the Arctic Circle. There isn’t exactly a lot of farming going on here. But Rainey Hopson is not the kind of person who cares about what’s normal. We’ll talk about climate change, food security, the Inupiaq connection to plants and so much more. We’ll hear all about Rainey’s project and the agricultural revolution she’s plotting up there in the Arctic.
The state has more land and a lower population density than any other. Dreams to clear swaths of it, feed the state and export crops to Asia have come and gone over the years. On this episode, We'll travel to the Fairbanks Experiment Farm to meet the researcher growing wheat. We’ll hear more about the history of those ambitions, the obstacles they’ve faced and what climate change could mean for their future. Then, we’ll meet a cattle rancher and farmer who’s doing his best to keep that dream alive.
A Green Evolution
On this week’s episode, we’re heading in a different direction toward one of Alaska’s niche markets. We’ll look inside a commercial outdoor marijuana operation outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. And we’ll hear about one farmer's evolution from ecologist to vegetable farmer to pot grower.
Then, we’ll talk about how Mike Emers of Rosie Creek Farm has seen Alaska’s agricultural scene evolve in the 22 years since he started farming. And of course, we’ll hear his thoughts on how climate change is influencing his work.
BONUS: THE CARROT KING & QUEEN
BONUS: THE CARROT KING & QUEEN
There is demand. I think you can grow and sell anything. There’s not enough farmers.
— Lynn Mayo, Spinach Creek Farm, outside Fairbanks, AK
Like a lot of the farms in Alaska, Spinach Creek Farm is a clearing in the forest at the end of a dirt road. An electric fence surrounds the 10-acre farm to keep the moose out. There’s chickens; a greenhouse full of tomatoes; rows of beets, potatoes and cabbage. And of course, carrots. Thirty rows of them to be exact. “We started with like seven rows and then sold them in a day,” Lynn Mayo said when I visited on a warm day in August.
Lynn and her husband Pete started the farm in 1994. They cleared the land themselves. And like so many other Alaskans and particularly Alaskan farmers, they had to be pioneers. “You can’t find a lot of equipment,” Lynn said. “You have to go outside. You have to get it up here.” Or, you have to build it yourself. They both work on the farm full-time in the summer, and they spend their winters fixing what’s broken and building new infrastructure. Like their greenhouse with in-floor heating, or Pete’s carrot-washing contraption that he built after he saw a picture of one. He also built something like a conveyer belt to get the heavy crates of carrots from the ground to the washer.
Pete shies away from the microphone when he comes out to meet me. He’s not the biggest talker, and there’s too much to be done. Summer in Alaska is non-stop for most of us, but for farmers especially so. He busies himself with disassembling their irrigation system for the season while we talk. August is usually a rainy month in Fairbanks, and this year—unlike most of the state—they’re getting some precipitation.
Pete grew up in Fairbanks, and he thinks fall is coming later than it used to. He remembers waiting until the first of October to go out on the pon
Amazing good storytelling
Great narrator & production quality. Interesting human stories. Very good
Lovely narrative, especially if you've spent time in Alaska
I don't know how I stumbled upon this podcast, but it is terrific - the narrator captures so much about about Alaska and the people and being someone from outside living there. I especially loved it because I've been to McCarthy and Wrangell-St. Elias NP for a brief hiking trip, and found it fascinating, so I had a visual for the podcast interviews and commetary, but it's so well done, I think anyone who has ever dreamt of moving far away from civilization will appreciate this!
I found this podcast by accident. I was looking for Out there and I only used one T and found out here. I’ve seen the reality tv show so I was familiar with the people. I loved how this was unscripted and how everyone talked about real life and issues. I understand your masters program is complete but I think you should continue the show! Also how come you didn’t interview Neil... lol!