Saturday, May 25, 2013
Home Grown: Anchorage Couple Makes Food Pledge
Got a garden? One Anchorage couple is working to eat only locally grown food for an entire year.
A local couple is taking the phrase “Alaska Grown” to a whole new level.
They have taken a pledge to eat only locally grown food for the next twelve months, and to grow as much of it as possible in their own backyard.
Saskia Esslinger and her husband, Matt Oster, live in a midtown Anchorage neighborhood with a plot of land roughly 6000 square feet. Almost every inch of it is covered with vegetables.
“A lot of people think, because our growing season is so short, that we couldn’t ever produce enough food in Alaska to feed ourselves,” Esslinger said. “We are trying to show that isn’t necessarily true, and that if we all gardened a little on our city lots we could go a long way towards feeding ourselves.”
Esslinger isn’t gardening a little, she is gardening a lot.
Her home, nicknamed the “Williams Street Farm House” for the street off Lake Otis where it is located, boasts dozens of vegetables, herbs, fruits and even grains. A greenhouse holds more plants, and a henhouse has fresh eggs.
Three months into their challenge, the couple is doing well. What they can’t raise or grow themselves, they buy from local farmers. Local meat and fish, whether hunted or purchased, are also okay.
Still, there are some things Esslinger misses dearly that are not Alaska grown. Nuts, lemons and her favorite, chocolate, top the list.
The eating experiment, which is now three months along, is also turning up some things Esslinger said should be available, like Alaska flour. Because there are no commercial grinders in the state, she buys wheat from a farmer in Delta Junction and grinds her own.
Esslinger bakes sourdough bread from her flour, and makes homemade butter to spread on top of it.
“I am really in awe of how much work it all is,” she said. "At the same time it gives me a new appreciation for the food.”
Right now, Esslinger is busy working to put food away for the winter, and said she is confident her garden will yield enough to get them through.
She is also keeping a detailed log of expenses to see if eating local will prove cheaper than getting goods at the grocery store. So far, she thinks it will. She also writes a weekly blog.
“I've been getting some really neat comments back from people that I don't even know,” she said. “They are telling me how they are inspired by what we are doing, and that makes it worth all the hard work that we do.”
She wants to spread the word that eating local is possible, and show that even a small garden plot can still have a big return.