Gardening in Alaska can be a challenge even when the weather cooperates. Dealing with frozen soil, late frosts, short growing seasons, cool rainy summers, root maggots, aphids, fungal disease, and the ever lurking neighborhood moose can be frustrating at best. I still supplement the vast majority of my food supply at the near by supermarket or giant warehouse outlet. A new local Three Bears warehouse outlet just opened a few miles from my house in Wasilla. Not all Alaskans have this advantage and those that don't live on the road system are at a particular disadvantage. This includes all of the rural towns and villages where all of the food supply is dependent on summer barge and winter air shipment.
Depending on our food distribution system in Alaska can be expensive and troublesome especially during a natural disaster and the ever increasing cost for transportation has to be paid for by the consumer. Growing at least part of our personal food supply makes economical sense and eating fresh produce is a luxury most Alaskans have learned to live without. Even the produce for sale in local supermarkets that was picked days or weeks ago and shipped north is usually a bland and tasteless comparison to fresh picked backyard veggies.
I am particularly enthusiastic to learn about Tim and Lisa Meyers and their family farming operation in Bethel, Alaska. You can follow the link at the beginning of this post to read all about their farming operation. You can hear Tim speak to the Bioneers in Alaska conference on October 16, 2011 that was recorded by the Alaska Public Broadcasting Network for their Addressing Alaska lecture series at: Sustainable Agriculture in Rural Alaska and following the playback link at the bottom of their page. If Tim and Lisa can be as successful as they appear to be in Bethel with all of the challenges that they have to overcome - then anybody can at least learn to supplement their own food supply almost anywhere. There are no excuses. And beyond growing fresh food the Meyers developed their own low tech food storage system to store their produce over-winter by using the simple root cellar system that was at one time common to nearly every farmstead in America.