Climate Change In Alaska Results In Unique And Newly Found Farming Capabilities

Sep 28, 17 Climate Change In Alaska Results In Unique And Newly Found Farming Capabilities

The state of Alaska is renowned for its unforgiving weather, harsh terrain, and now — at last — for farming. Climate change and modern technology have made it possible for Alaskan farms to make the historic jump of 67% over the span of 10 years.

Among the new and decently profiting farms in what has been called the Last Frontier is Blood Sweat and Food Farm, a tiny commercial processing facility stemming from Homer, Alaska. The business is made up of five employee-owners including Jenni Medley and Beau Burgess.

While those who choose to live in the harsh climate of Alaska are typically native-born Alaskans with thick skin, the owners of Blood Sweat and Food Farm hail from states such as Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico.

“I love the high desert of New Mexico,” said Medley to High Country News. “But there’s no water. If I think about what I want to be doing, I just can’t do it there.”

Homer, Alaska, on the other hand, has plenty of water. The neighboring volcanoes have rendered the soil rich and fertile with organic matter for the area’s unexpected farming capabilities.

What makes the success of Blood Sweat and Food Farm and other budding farming businesses so incredible is that, until recently, food such as vegetables, store-bought meat, and perishables have had to be imported from states thousands of miles away. As a result, food costs have been incredibly high in comparison to other parts of the country.

The United States as a nation eats a total of 66.5 pounds of beef on average annually. In Alaska, locals unwilling to purchase store-bought beef would be forced to take it from their own minimal cattle or find meat elsewhere from wild game or fish.

Now, with warmer summers rendering the state’s soil capable of being tended to and modern technology becoming increasingly cheap, the number of farmers’ direct sales has increased 13 times the national average. The rising temperatures in the otherwise frosty state were noted by NPR two years ago and has since continued. According to High Country News, Alaska’s temperatures have warmed twice as fast as the rest of the U.S. with 6-degree warmer winters than 60 years ago.

“Some people are total climate deniers,” said Homer Soil and Water Conservation district manager Kyra Wagner. “But they’re still seeing unprecedented aphid infestations or imbalances in the fish harvest. They may not blame it on climate, but there’s an awareness that something’s changing.”

Plants and trees that have been unable to grow in the state’s climate in the past are now not only growing but thriving. However, the plant growth and increased farming capability come at a price what with insect infestations and reduced populations of wild game. “Everybody is a little weirded out,” said Wagner.

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