US (AK): Bringing fresh to the frozen state

In a repurposed car garage, somewhere in Anchorage, Alaska, there is an indoor farm built from an unexpected combination of rectangular towers held in long, wooden racks.

The farm is CityFarms Alaska, and it’s six months old. It was born for the purpose of serving the Anchorage community with fresh herbs, something that the residents of Alaska usually only experience for 2 or 3 months of the year.

For the rest of the year, much of Alaska’s food system relies on barges and planes that bring produce from the lower 48 states. If the shipment can’t make it, shelves are left empty.

When the shipment does arrive, it delivers less-than-desirable produce; fruits and vegetables that have traveled thousands of miles. By the time they reach the table, they are days if not weeks old, are stemmy, and have bland flavor.

And it’s not just the small urban areas that feel the effects of the tedious shipping process—the large cities of Alaska share the dependency on imported foods due to the short growing season and long winters among a long list of other limiting factors. In addition, the state has been inclined to focus more effort on producing valuable exports, like oil, than on sustaining viable food systems. In short, fresh foods in Alaska is an accessibility game, and Alaska was dealt a bad hand.

To solve that problem and other food security issues around the world, many farmers, like those in the Upstart University community, are implementing modern sustainable methods in and around cities to reduce the amount of time and distance produce travels, and to increase the quality.

Read more at Upstart University (Mia Lauenroth)

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