The Alaska Grown logo has become one of the most iconic visual representations of Alaska pride – since its introduction in 1986, the sweatshirts, tee shirts, hats and other gear imprinted with the distinctive blue, yellow and green logo have become shorthand for the wearer’s pride in all things Alaska. But the program is more than just a logo on a tee shirt.
The Alaska Grown program, which is administered by the State of Alaska’s Division of Agriculture, markets fruits, vegetables, meats and aquaculture that were grown in Alaska to help support the state’s agricultural industry. As more and more residents, visitors, chefs and foodies embrace the local food movement, the Alaska Grown certification has earned a reputation as the easiest and most consumer-friendly way to support local agriculture in Alaska.
Types of Alaska Grown Products — While it may be hard to imagine, Alaska is actually a very fertile place for produce. Although the growing season is short, rich soils and long summer days combine to produce some of the sweetest and most delectable vegetables available. The list of vegetables grown in Alaska is too long to name them all, but examples include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, cucumbers, greens, leaf and head lettuce, potatoes, summer and winter squash, tomatoes, beans, beets, Brussels sprouts, celery, green and yellow onions, peas, radishes, snow peas, turnips and rutabagas.
Other major product categories for Alaska Grown products include dairy, meat (reindeer and bison, for example) as well as aquaculture products such as oysters, clams and mussels. An Agricultural Experiment Palmer, Alaska, is one of the only Alaska communities born from an agricultural-driven experiment. The Matanuska Colony was a New Deal project that relocated Midwestern families from Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois to Palmer in the mid-1930s. It helped 202 struggling families in the midst of the Great Depression and presented a unique opportunity for many to start over on fertile Alaska land. While many of the farms failed, the potential for farming the sheltered and rich-soiled valley land was soon after realized.
Today, many descendants of those colonists remain in Alaska and some are still operating original colony farms today. The history of these families and their role in the settlement of the area is captured in several local attractions in Palmer, including the Colony House Museum. Alaska Farmer’s Markets & Festivals Alaska’s farmer’s markets are a one-stop shop for visitors looking for all things Alaska Grown. Markets are spread throughout the state, and some stay open year-round.
- Today, there are more than 760 farms in Alaska.
- The increase of daylight exposure can cause plants to grow larger than normal. In some cases sunlight is hitting the gardens up to 20 hours a day.
- Buying local continues to be a trend in Alaska with 40 farmer’s markets located throughout the state.
- John Evans of Anchorage holds seven world records for his giant vegetables. His green cabbage weighted-in at 76 pounds, setting a world record in 1998. He also grew a 31.25-pound cauliflower in 1997.
- A jumbo-sized carrot that weighed 18.99 pounds and a 75.75-pound rutabaga also set world records.