local food

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Researchers and the Cooperative Extension Service want to know how the pandemic and the 2019 Swan Lake Fire impacted food resilience on the Kenai Peninsula.

Courtney Long is a PhD student at Iowa State University. She said the study on the peninsula is one of five she’s conducting in rural communities across the country. 

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

Every new challenge is just another problem to be solved—according to Abby Ala, anyway.

"It keeps life interesting," she said. "If you have problems, you always have something to work on, that’s always there to be worked on."

Elizabeth Earl / KDLL

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted just about everything, including food shipments to grocery stores all over Alaska. Last year, Alaskans really felt it, with some products just not available.

Alaska depends on shipments for about 95 percent of its food, which makes the state fragile when those supply lines are interrupted. Reportedly, interest in local food has grown during the pandemic as well—good news for the Kenai Peninsula, which was home to more than 250 farms in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Farmers and local food advocates have stood on that fact to push for more in-state food production support and infrastructure, and with the pandemic highlighting food insecurity, they are taking the opportunity to push for broader changes.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

There is perhaps no better time to start a culinary business than on Pie Day, or March 14. That's when Joe Spady opened Three Peaks Mercantile, an eatery and shop next to Artzy Junkin in Soldotna. He celebrated the business’s second anniversary this week.

Snow might still be on the ground but spring isn’t far away. When we get there, gardeners need to have their planting plans ready. Here’s some food for thought — growing native edible perennials. Local vegetables, if you will. Didn’t know there was such a thing? Shawn Jackinsky, of Green Cannon Gardens in Ninilchik, can tell you all about it. This is a “Know Your Lands” presentation from the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District. Find more of their presentations on their Facebook page.

Courtesy of Diluvium Culinaire

When Keith Huss died in September, he left behind both good friends and good food in his food truck business. One of those friends, Brant Feather, of Soldotna, wants to keep Huss’s food truck aspirations alive.

“To be able to have that trailer as something that I had helped out with, to know that it’s going to me and that I’m going to be able to provide the public with a service just the same as he was, was what inspired me to go ahead and buy his trailer from his family," Feather said. "I can continue on what he was doing. Maybe not in the same style of food but in the same manner that he was.”

Huss, an accomplished fisherman who grew up on the Kenai Peninsula, was killed in September. Sarah Dayan, of Homer, was charged for his murder.

It makes sense that the Alaska Food Hub has done so well this year. The virtual farmers market uses the same sort of online delivery system that brick and mortar stores have adopted during the pandemic. It was COVID-safe before COVID even came into being.

In 2020, the Food Hub tripled its sales. And famers are reaping the benefits.


Jenny Neyman

All Alaska producers are eligible for federal assistance under a new USDA program. But days before the deadline, not many have applied.

This is the second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, or CFAP, administered by the USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Round one was reserved for producers who worked with certain commodities and could prove they were impacted by the pandemic.

This round is open to many more producers working with a large swath of commodities, said Alaska FSA Program Manager Jeff Curry. That includes peonies, a popular crop on the Kenai Peninsula.

Ionia

When restaurants and other food services closed this spring, many people found themselves cooking at home a lot more often. While some people relish that, others may be more… novices at it. While in-peson cooking classes probably aren't going to be around for awhile, one peninsula community is reaching out online to help educate some aspiring cooks.

Ionia, a holistic living community near Kasilof, is offering online cooking classes every second Saturday through October. Eliza Eller, who runs the classes, says they're all plant-based and focused on macrobiotics--essentially, whole foods like grains and vegetables.

Dig into the local food scene with Eliza Eller, one of the founders of the Iona community in Kasilof and the Kenai Local Food Connection, Heidi Chay, district manager for the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District, and Abby Ala, owner of Ridgeway Farms off Strawberry Road between Kenai and Soldotna.

More information on the events and topics discussed can be found at:

Ionia Alaska

Kenai Local Food Connection

 

It’s time for KDLL’s annual holiday cooking show on this week’s Kenai Conversation. Join local chefs Maya Wilson and Joe Spady for their takes on favorite holiday dishes, how to integrate local ingredients and other entertaining tips.

 

 


Jenny Neyman/KDLL

On the calendar, spring officially begins March 21. In reality, we’ve got a while yet before anyone in southcentral Alaska is digging in the dirt, but that doesn’t stop intrepid growers from getting started.

On March 2, the Central Peninsula Garden Club had its annual get-ready-for-spring roundtables event at Peninsula Grace Brethren Church on Kalifornsky Beach Road in Soldotna, and a new opportunity for year-round greens has sprouted up in Soldotna.

Opportunities for agritourism growing on the Kenai

Apr 20, 2018
Alaska Farm Tours

 

With the growth of agriculture on the Kenai Peninsula, the next opportunity could be agritourism. Margaret Adsit, founder of Alaska Farm Tours in Palmer, was in Soldotna Thursday to give local growers some insight into another way to get people to their products.