Have you ever idly considered farming in Alaska. It can be easy to dream about tilling virgin soils with mountains towering over the background and fresh creek water coming from fresh snow melt.
The truth, however, is not as pretty as the fiction.
Alaska is a challenging place to farm, but I guarantee it is one of the most rewarding places on earth to do it.
Here is what is challenging about farming in Alaska:
- There are no Class I soils. All soils in Alaska are rated Class 2 and higher. That doesn’t mean the soils aren’t fertile. Volcanic ash, fresh glacial silt means these young virginal soils have a lot to give, but the soil temperatures remain cool throughout the growing season.
- Crops you are used to growing don’t come so easy in the Far North. Forget outdoor tomato cages, or unattended basil, think twice about that sweet corn. These crops look for milder climates. That being said, there are intrepid farmers who have grown them all and with great success under hoop houses, using plastic ground cover, and being hyper vigilant. It is easy to see why people pay top dollar for tomatoes at farmers markets in Alaska.
- Alaska Farmers pay top dollar for seeds. Alaska is far away. For most Alaskans, this is acutely felt when order things. For farmers, this is felt when purchasing seed, hoses, irrigation systems and everything and anything else coming from out of state. Alaska’s remoteness and small population means that supplies locally are minimal, so you will pay for shipping to get the products you want from out of state.
- You better know how to wrench. Most farms hold on to old equipment in Alaska because bringing in out of state tractors is costly, plus you never know when you’ll need to bring out your 50 year old tractor to get the job done. The old adage of waste not, want not definitely applies.
- Depending on where you want to live, land prices can be pricey. In the Matanuska Valley, where most of our tours take place, some land can go for almost $30,000 per acre for 40 acres parcels. Not all land across this state is that expensive, but going into buying your own farm may not be all that easy. Fortunately, a new program, the Alaska FarmLink program assists folks in finding agricultural land in Alaska.
Still interested in farming in Alaska? Book a tour with Alaska Farm Tours to learn much more about the intricate of running a farm in Alaska.