Couple Who Ate Local for a Year Offer Their Knowledge
Giving tours of their home-grown operation
ANCHORAGE - Last fall we introduced you to an Anchorage couple who was taking a “local food challenge.” Matt Oster and Saskia Esslinger vowed to eat only food that was grown or produced in Alaska for an entire year, with as much as possible coming from their own backyard.
Now that year has come and gone, and Saskia says for the most part it was a complete success.
Simmering the kale, chard and dandelion leaves in caribou broth until they are tender, Saskia purees the mixture in a blender. It’s a meal for her 7-month-old son Gracen who has eaten nothing but local since the day he was born.
“He actually really loves this,” says Saskia, letting Gracen slurp up a spoonful of the vibrantly green mixture. “And he has never been sick ever, not a fever, sniffle or a cold.”
Saskia says the family’s passion for eating fresh food is as strong as ever and a year of “eating local” was more of a pleasure.
“We didn’t really feel like it was much of a challenge to be honest.”
Over the last three years the couple has transformed their 9,000 square foot lot in Midtown Anchorage into a bountiful garden, complete with a henhouse for fresh eggs. The Williams Street Farmhouse is named for the street the property sits on, and while it may seem an unlikely location, smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood, the farm has proved incredibly productive.
“Last year we harvested more than 1,600 pounds of produce,” says Saskia. “We still have spaghetti squash left and lots of produce in the freezer.”
Leftovers were one of the biggest surprises learned from a year of eating local. The couple actually put away too much food for the winter. Saskia says it’s a relief to know she won’t have to work quite as hard this year prepping, canning and preparing foods for storage.
Despite the work involved, the couple plans to continue eating local and they have also made it a mission to show others how it can be done. Saskia is conducting twice weekly tours of the property throughout the summer to show others how much food can be grown, even in an urban environment.
“There's so much opportunity out here if everyone were to turn their lawn or at least a part of their lawns into gardens. We could grow a significant portion of the food we need right here in the city.”
The William Street Farmhouse is proving it can be done.