Garden Talk: A tour of Táayi Hít, Tlingit and Haida’s new greenhouse

Master Gardener Lindsey Pierce is surrounded by sunflowers as she looks up at the top of the dome in Táayi Hít, the “Garden House” at Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

A year after completion, the greenhouse built by Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has produced its share of successes and setbacks.

“The name is Táayi Hít, which means ‘garden house’ in Lingít,” says Lindsey Pierce, master gardener and environmental specialist at Tlingit and Haida.

Also referred to as “the dome” because of its shape, the structure was assembled from a kit by local contractors last July. This year marks the second growing season for the greenhouse.

Cer Scott, also a master gardener and environmental specialist, said he was new to indoor gardening and overwhelmed at first. For him, one of the first challenges was deciding what to grow.

Cer Scott, Master Gardener and Environmental Specialist at Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska .(Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

“We’re trying to decide, you know, should we grow things that are not as accessible at our stores?” Scott said. “Or should we grow things that people that are more, you know, wanted in the region, like cultural traditional foods. So we kind of did a mixture of both.”

One of the successes from this season included multiple crops of Swiss chard.

“We had several harvests and made a nice big lunch for the staff,” Scott said.

A lot of it also went to Smokehouse Catering, the tribe’s event company, who use produce from the dome in the meals they serve.

Tomatoes also did well, but basil was an especially big hit.

“It’s one of those things that it’s right next to the door, so when you walk in you get a waft of some fresh basil,” Scott said.

Ripe beefsteak tomato on the vine under the dome at Táayi Hít. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

They had a few setbacks however, like pests and heat.

“We did have some cabbage here but we lost that unfortunately to some of the aphids,” Scott explains. “Aphids took over those so we just ended up pulling them to kind of help combat that.”

And a long stretch of hot weather earlier in the summer threw off the timing of their broccoli.

“While we were still trying to figure out the environment inside the greenhouse, as far as climate control, our broccoli ended up bolting. And flowering.” Scott explained. “It’s just their life cycle.”

“You can eat the flowers though,” Pierce added.

Lindsey Pierce, Master Gardener and Environmental Specialist at Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, holds out edible broccoli flowers from a plant that bolted. (Photo by Sheli DeLaney/KTOO)

Scott and Pierce both completed the Alaska Master Gardener Program, and they agree that they have learned a lot in just two growing seasons under the dome.

“Last July is when it started. And it’s just been a ride ever since.” says Pierce.

 

Garden Talk

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