Building community and a healthy food system, one bite at a time.

The Power of Urban Gardens

The question was simple: why is gardening (in Alaska of all places!) important to you?

The responses were thoughtful, witty, and it quickly became clear to me that a garden represents something different to each person. It is a small, yet powerful act of self-sufficiency, localism, and in some cases rebellion. It is a way to plant something real in defiance of our industrial food system that seeks to isolate us from our food, and each other. It is science, math, art, and economics. It is beauty, peace, tradition, and taste. It is community, family, home.

I was originally planning on writing a “Top 10 Reasons to Garden this Summer” article, but the responses to my question blew me away. I decided instead to let them speak for themselves. Here are quotes from people in our community. I hope they inspire you as much as they did me.

Why is having a garden important to you?

-Anne Gore, Girl Scouts of Alaska

 

“I grew up in Queens, a borough of the city of New York.  My parents were social workers, not farmers.  I moved to Alaska in 1969, when many people my age were “getting back to the land.”  In Fairbanks during the 70’s, we all had gardens.  To me, its always been a big part of living in Alaska.  We hunt, we fish, we grow big gardens.

I also work with Alaska farmers every day, using USDA programs to help them be financially successful.  To do my job well, I have to literally get my hands dirty to really understand the challenges of growing food in Alaska. ”

-Danny Consenstein, USDA

 

“It is a great way for kids to learn where food comes from. My son’s friends were over when I was harvesting carrots and potatoes. They had no idea that they grew in the ground. They had a blast helping me harvest. ”

-Lisa Wedin, UAF Cooperative Extension

 

-Kim Wetzel, URS Corporation

 

“When I garden I feel reconnected to the earth. I feel fortunate to be a property owner and feel a responsibility to use our land wisely, even if it means building above ground beds in downtown Anchorage!”

-Cindy Shake, Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation

 

-Kate Powers, Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center

 

-Nick Moe, Alaska Center for the Environment

 

“Meet your neighbors! An interesting yard is a great conversation starter.”

-Nick Treinen, Black Dog Gardens

 

-Laura Avellaneda-Cruz, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium

 

“I love urban gardening! I love to sit out on the edge of my raised beds in the morning, drinking coffee and watching my bees busily fly in and out of the hive and buzz about the ever changing landscape of my backyard.

I love the seasonality of urban farming, ordering my seeds from Alaska companies in March, starting my seeds in April and planting the garden in May. The summer is filled with anticipation and appreciation for the sweetnesses and crunch of fresh picked veggies and the excitement of harvesting and experimenting with the ever growing pile of new found canning recipes that have accumulated throughout the year. The winter of course isn’t too bad either, the hardest part is to determine which tasty good to eat when and making sure I don’t use up all of the rhubarb and raspberry preserves too quickly, a goal I never seem to achieve. ”

~Melissa Heuer, Renewable Resources Foundation

 

“Reason #10 – you’ve got to do something productive with all that chicken shit! :)”

-Matt Rafferty, Alaska Conservation Foundation

 

Reason #7 – turn that park everyone is afraid to go near in to the vibrant community space it is supposed to be! We have what 243 parks? Not all of them are going to be top-notch. The way I think of it is from an urban development/redevelopment standpoint and the opportunity to transition troubled or vacant land (blight) to productive use. Turning something back in to a community asset – that’s the real story of the Gardens at Bragaw. We’re amazed by how many people are mobilized around that space already (neighbors, schools, business, nonprofits) and they are all thankful to have that space back to take their kids and dogs and see lively activity that makes our neighborhood more livable.”

-Kirk Rose, Anchorage Community Land Trust

 

“Connection- with nature, increased observation skills, fostering curiosity with natural world, taste, texture, less need to spend time in store, learning about varietals, understanding the process and work involved in food production, beauty, and community.”

-GeorgeAnne Sprinkle, Alaska Community Action on Toxics

 

-Megan McBride, Alaska Youth for Environmental Action

 

Share your reasons with us at akfoodmosaic@gmail.com!

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Shannon Kuhn

Shannon Kuhn, Co-Founder

Born on the coast of South Korea and raised in Anchorage, Shannon is a lifelong Alaskan with a kimchi twist. She lives to eat adventurously, meet new people, and learn about different cultures and places. She is passionate about reconnecting with her food heritage, as well as the soil it was grown in. Shannon is the Philanthropy & Communications Director for Great Land Trust and writes a column for the Alaska Dispatch News around food and culture.