By Kerry Nelson
While studying for my undergraduate in Conservation and Environmental Science in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I became very interested and involved in sustainable organic agriculture. Soil degradation, water pollution, and socio-economic disparities are deeply entrenched in conventional agricultural methods. I believe that small organic farms collectively harbor great potential to impact our broken food system by reconnecting an innate relationship with the land to grow nutrient dense, real food. The sustainable practices being implemented on these farms are restoring our soils, maintaining clean waterways, and rebuilding strong communities.
I knew that I needed to be a part of this movement, so I began to explore what small scale organic farming was like through different internships. While I learned a lot and knew it was an avenue I definitely wanted to continue to pursue, I had not yet gotten the true day-to-day farm experience that I needed. Enter: Spring Creek Farm, Alaska Pacific University. I have been asked a lot by family and friends in Wisconsin: “Why Alaska?” My response was “Why NOT!?” In truth, I had no idea what the agricultural scene was like anywhere in Alaska, let alone that it even existed. My short time up here has completely surprised and inspired me.
There is a sort of magic in the air here at Spring Creek Farm. Maybe it’s the spirit of Louise Kellogg – the farm’s original legendary owner, or Joshua Faller and Megan Talley – the current farm managers and educators who you can’t help but look up to as human beings. Or, maybe it’s the fact that the farm just happens to sit in the Matanuska Valley on roughly 900 acres of fairytale forest with mountains in your front and back yards. It’s really all of these things: the setting, the people, and most importantly the work that is being done here.
Part of Spring Creek’s mission is to educate the next generation of farmers, and they definitely stay true to it. It is a mixture of the daily physical aspects of organic farming – cultivating, seeding, transplanting, and harvesting -, washing and packing produce for CSA shares, market or donation, selling the produce at the market, learning how to operate a tractor (it’s been worth it for that alone, let’s be honest), and seeing the trials and triumphs of growing food in the arctic circle. Being part of this team of people who are working hard to supply good, affordable food to the surrounding communities has not only been an amazing learning opportunity, but a true privilege and honor. It feels good to be here on Spring Creek Farm.