by Miriam Mezzetti
The Alaska Food Festival & Conference was a two-day event featuring people all over Alaska who are passionate about local, healthy food and self-reliance in our Alaska food system. The event was sponsored by many prominent state organizations and businesses, and opened with speeches from Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and several other Alaskan political representatives. Joshua Faller and Megan Talley from APU’s Spring Creek farm hosted a presentation about the Spring Creek Farm’s collaboration with UAF, the Family Nutrition Program, and the Plant Materials Center, to create the Alaska Tilth initiative, and the impact it has had upon the Alaskan community.
Megan and Josh spoke about the importance of having a resilient local food system that can feed Alaskans even during periods of poor weather or similar events that can interfere with food supplies from the lower 48. Additionally, they spoke about how Alaska Tilth has benefitted many Alaskan community members, particularly vulnerable and needy families who would otherwise not have access to healthy foods. Megan and Josh hope, through Alaska Tilth, to collaborate with even more people and businesses to create a more resilient Alaska food system during this upcoming year.
Not only is the Spring Creek Farm doing great things to positively impact the Alaskan food system, so are many APU Alumni, one of whom hosted the presentation before Megan and Josh’s. Avril Freeman, an APU Alumna, has been accomplishing great things through helping school-age children in the Fairbanks area to learn about farming and healthy eating. She organized a summer science credit recovery program with a standards based curriculum for children who might otherwise be held back. When she and her students noticed the difference between the quality of the food they were growing and the food they were being served at lunch each day, they worked with the government and the school system to attain a Let’s Move! salad bar for a healthier lunch option. Not only did students experience the science behind agriculture, they also learned real-world business lessons through value-added activities such as selling produce and angora wool.
APU, through our alumni, students, and our own Spring Creek Farm’s presence, was very well-represented at the Alaska Food Festival and Conference. We believe that the future of food resiliency and sustainability in Alaska is very important, not only for the students who are studying sustainability and agriculture at APU, but for all of Alaska. Through Spring Creek Farm’s Alaska Tilth project, and the many other initiatives that were featured in the conference, we can all work to achieve a more healthy and reliable food system for all Alaskans.