Old Harbor garden bears veggies, residents hope to keep it going

Lettuce growing at the farm in Old Harbor, Alaska. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KMXT)

Daysha Eaton/KMXT

This summer, the community of Old Harbor on Kodiak Island harvested vegetables and fruit from their farm in significant quantities for the first time.

The agricultural experiment provided enough produce to sell at the local store.

One employee and some seasonal helpers have overseen the project for the past three years. It was funded through a federal grant, which runs out soon.

But Old Harbor hopes to keep the farm going with volunteers.

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For now, it is managed by one man.

Vegetables growing inside a greenhouse at the farm in Old Harbor on August 7, 2018. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KMXT)

“Right here, we have the carrots. Right here, we currently got the cabbages going, and then over here we just recently got the lettuce growing,” said Lepani Nadore, who works for the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor where he, among other things, oversees Nuniaq Farm, which consists of two large hoop houses and a chicken coop on the edge of the village.

“Nuniaq is actually the Alutiiq name for Old Harbor and pretty much as it being our first farm, we figured it would be complimentary to have the Alutiiq name,” said Nadore.

Nadore moved to Old Harbor from Anchorage and is originally from American Samoa. He’s raising his two young daughters in the village, where their mother is from.

This is the first summer they’ve had the garden fully established in Old Harbor. It even includes fruit trees – cherries and apples. And some kiwis. 

Chickens cluck in the background as Nadore continues the tour over to the chicken coop.

Lepani Nadori stands in th doorway of a greenhouse in Old Harbor on August, 7 2018. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KMXT)

“So we got 35. I am not familiar with the chicken breeds per se. But we definitely got 35 hens and one rooster.”

The chickens produce about two dozen eggs a day, give or take. When they stop producing eggs, they butcher them and sell them for meat.

The idea is to keep the prices low and affordable for community members. All the money that the farm makes goes back into the farm.

The project is funded through a 3-year grant which ends at the end of September.

The City of Old Harbor is willing to support the program when the grant funding ends, but there will not be any more funding to pay for a staff member to manage it. So, they are turning it into a community garden to be run by volunteers during the transition. Eventually, they hope a community member will take the farm on as a business.

Nadore says the Nuniaq Food Market, where the food is sold, takes a small cut from the proceeds.

Two hoop houses at the farm in Old Harbor on August 7, 2018. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KMXT)

As Nadore opens the fridge inside the village store, he explains what’s inside: “Once we clean off the eggs they go into these 12 dozen containers, and they are sold pretty much for $4.44, a dozen.”

They also sell bundles of kale, bok choy and lettuce for $3.49 each.

Those prices are the same or cheaper than those paid for the same type of foods in Kodiak. Plus, they didn’t have to endure a barge trip or a flight, and they’re fresh.

The Kodiak Archipelago Leadership Institute or KALI, helped secure the federal grant for Old Harbor through the Administration for Native Americans.

The grant also helped start farms in Port Lions, Ouzinkie and Larsen Bay.

They’re working on wrapping up business plans for the farms with the villages this September, before the grant ends on September 30.

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