How secure is Alaska’s food system? How much local food is being produced in various regions of the state? What would it take to make food production easier here?
These are some of the questions the Alaska Food Policy Council hopes to answer in a series of town hall meetings around the state.
The organization is dedicated to increasing local food production.
Darren Snyder is a council member and University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Agent.
He says the council’s vision is to promote a healthy and secure food system that feeds all Alaskans.
“And each one of us are part of that vision. So the Food Policy Council is attempting to have each person who sees themselves as part of the overall Alaska food systems be able to weigh in and contribute what they think would help to improve that system,” Snyder says.
Just how much food is grown in Juneau and other parts of Southeast Alaska?
Researcher Lia Heifetz has done a baseline study of domesticated food production in the Juneau region. It’s no surprise the small operations are unable to make a living at growing local food.
There’s a high demand for local foods, but right now there’s not enough produced to meet those demands.
Heifetz says Haines would be the most promising place to grow more food in Southeast.
She says the goal of her study was to come up with things that would help increase the capacity of those attempting to produce crops in the region.
Recommendations are based on a survey of growers, who said a network could reduce the costs of producing food.
“Things like equipment shares, cooperative buying to buy amendments and things needed to produce food,” she says. “Some examples of added infrastructure are things that could be included in the umbrella term food hub, which could be anything from a commercial kitchen to a shared storage facility and a center for education and creation of value-added products.”
Heifetz’s study was done for the Cooperative Extension, Southeast Conference, and Sheinberg Associates.
The Juneau Town Meeting of the Alaska Food Policy Council is Monday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Juneau Douglas High School Commons.