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Old 02-25-2018, 02:07 PM
 
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Read up on the Matanuska colony farm to see what a person is up against in the Mat valley. Or more recently, Point Mackenzie.
I know some folks in Butte who are attempting to get organic farming going, these are long time Alaska folks well versed in the local economy, markets and environmental conditions. They are both still working full time jobs as the farming isn't coming close to making a living. Wolverine Farms would be the only operation I can think of to actually make a living at it and they have the advantage of working a homestead so they didn't have to buy land...it's been in the family for a couple generations now.

It's hard to get truly organic going. Composting takes forever to get to compost, growing seasons are intense but short, winters are long, and Met may know just a bit more about this than out of state residents or big city dwellers. Affordable land in the Mat-Su is probably swamp or north of Palmer which is not suitable for farming, it wil;;l barely support swamp spruce.

If you can make a farm work in AK, you can do it anywhere, but there are areas more accessible than AK to do that.
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Old 02-25-2018, 02:50 PM
 
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I have a cherry tree on my property, but the fruit always seems to get ripe just when the silvers start to run, so the ravens get most of it.
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Old 02-25-2018, 03:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GnomadAK View Post
Read up on the Matanuska colony farm to see what a person is up against in the Mat valley. Or more recently, Point Mackenzie.
I know some folks in Butte who are attempting to get organic farming going, these are long time Alaska folks well versed in the local economy, markets and environmental conditions. They are both still working full time jobs as the farming isn't coming close to making a living..
Seems to be the norm according to most posters in the AK Farm and Feed FB group.

I'm going to put up a large greenhouse to make sure my family and cannery crew has some fresh vegetables, and I might sell the surplus, but any profit's just going to be extra money.

5th generation Oregon farm girl and OSU grad (with an emphasis on greenhouse growing) here...
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Old 02-25-2018, 04:34 PM
 
234 posts, read 146,546 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GnomadAK View Post
Read up on the Matanuska colony farm to see what a person is up against in the Mat valley. Or more recently, Point Mackenzie.
I know some folks in Butte who are attempting to get organic farming going, these are long time Alaska folks well versed in the local economy, markets and environmental conditions. They are both still working full time jobs as the farming isn't coming close to making a living. Wolverine Farms would be the only operation I can think of to actually make a living at it and they have the advantage of working a homestead so they didn't have to buy land...it's been in the family for a couple generations now.

It's hard to get truly organic going. Composting takes forever to get to compost, growing seasons are intense but short, winters are long, and Met may know just a bit more about this than out of state residents or big city dwellers. Affordable land in the Mat-Su is probably swamp or north of Palmer which is not suitable for farming, it wil;;l barely support swamp spruce.

If you can make a farm work in AK, you can do it anywhere, but there are areas more accessible than AK to do that.
Hey there Gnome, ya I read about that colony, some interesting things. Here is a couple quotes from what I read-don't know whether or not they are accurate;

"the less successful farmers were the ones available to colonize the Matanuska valley...

"The recruitment also suffered from the enthusiasm of the candidates":...

"they might have presented themselves as being a bit more capable than they actually were"...

"The results revealed themselves early in the colony. Many left, many struggled, and many apparently did very little"....

"The chosen colonists often were fairly skilled and self-sufficient, but they lacked specialized farming skills and industriousness"...

"The Matanuska Colony produced a range of crops and livestock. The primary cash crop were potatoes. In 1947, it was noted that approximately 2,500 tons were grown, with yields of 10-17 tons per acre, with the quality being excellent. Additional successful crops yielding thoroughly ripened grain included wheat, barley, oats, and winter rye. Hay, crops of oats, alone and with peas or vetch, also did well. Silage of oats and peas were also very successful. Farmers found that a wide variety of vegetables could also be grown and produced an extraordinary quality product"

"The climate is well-suited for cattle and dairy farming" (Dale, Robert F. (March 1956). "The Climate of Matanuska Valley". Technical Paper No. 27. U.S. Department of Commerce Weather Bureau: iii–26)



So if there is any credence to these quotes, it appears that farming and ranching were both possible and successful, but most were not the most skilled in farming... I think it is like you said though-good farm ground is not easy to find and probably very expensive up there now.


Is this the people you were talking about in Butte: "The Remple Family Farm is in the Bodenburg Butte area. This farm raises over 100 different certified organic vegetables on 135 acres"

Seems like they are having success growing veggies... Thanks for the info Gnomad

TC
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Old 02-25-2018, 06:36 PM
 
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The problem wth the land available is that the best farming land is also the best building land and the mat valley has become the bedroom of Anchorage.

I know where Remle farm is, my friends are around the south side of the butte, but keep in mind that the Remple farm is well established. Trying to buy that kind of acreage wild be punishing at today's prces.

I also have a bit of knowledge here, as I was in the YCC and on of the many jobs we did was to work on the research farm on the Bodenberg loop. Oats and barley were bred for AK conditions but few farm them successfully. Even though the state has heavily subsidized both Delta and Point MacKenzie, success has been elusve.

One last little problem-potato blight is taking hold in the mat valley,which will be disasterous, as that is the big cash crop. Farmers used to plant spuds at the four corners, but they didn't bother on the last year I lived there. Not enough return on the investment. I used to buy a 50lb sack of taters from the back o the truck for $10. That takes a lot of potatoes to earn a living.

So some established operotors can make a go of it but I don't see how a person who has to ask the internet can reasonably make a go of it. If someone has the ability they don't need to ask internet forums and then get peeved when the reality doesn'tfit a preconceived notion.

Can it be done? Sure. Can the OP do it? I have serious doubts.
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Old 02-25-2018, 07:23 PM
 
234 posts, read 146,546 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GnomadAK View Post
The problem wth the land available is that the best farming land is also the best building land and the mat valley has become the bedroom of Anchorage.

I know where Remle farm is, my friends are around the south side of the butte, but keep in mind that the Remple farm is well established. Trying to buy that kind of acreage wild be punishing at today's prces.

I also have a bit of knowledge here, as I was in the YCC and on of the many jobs we did was to work on the research farm on the Bodenberg loop. Oats and barley were bred for AK conditions but few farm them successfully. Even though the state has heavily subsidized both Delta and Point MacKenzie, success has been elusve.

One last little problem-potato blight is taking hold in the mat valley,which will be disasterous, as that is the big cash crop. Farmers used to plant spuds at the four corners, but they didn't bother on the last year I lived there. Not enough return on the investment. I used to buy a 50lb sack of taters from the back o the truck for $10. That takes a lot of potatoes to earn a living.

So some established operotors can make a go of it but I don't see how a person who has to ask the internet can reasonably make a go of it. If someone has the ability they don't need to ask internet forums and then get peeved when the reality doesn'tfit a preconceived notion.

Can it be done? Sure. Can the OP do it? I have serious doubts.
Thanks. Asking people on internet forums about the price of land and growing conditions in a particular area, doesn't mean the person doesn't know how to grow food-what an absurd idea... But hey, thanks for your encouragement . I hope not everyone in Alaska has your disposition...

What a shame that the valley is being ruined by development...

Tc
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:22 AM
 
Location: interior Alaska
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Originally Posted by GnomadAK View Post
Even though the state has heavily subsidized both Delta and Point MacKenzie, success has been elusve.
As far as I can tell, the Delta projects have been pretty successful at producing locally grown food, but not at producing livings for the farmers, if that makes sense. Your typical successful Delta farming household has one or more of the adults working a normal job as well for consistent cash flow and health benefits. I only know one guy whose farm produces as self-supporting income, but he doesn't have kids, and I get the impression things are pretty tight even so.

It's also noteworthy that even up here where land prices are more affordable than around Palmer, the successful farms are pretty much all on land that was homesteaded in the family and/or purchased ages ago, as far as I can tell, so that's a huge expense they don't have.
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Old 02-26-2018, 04:43 AM
 
Location: Anchorage, Alaska (most of the time)
1,222 posts, read 3,275,081 times
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I kill any and all plants that come my way, so I don't have any information/inight into farming, but if you need help finding a property I have plenty of knowledge (but I am NOT a realtor).

First, visit AlaskaMLS.com :: Alaska Real Estate - do not rely on Zillow or Trulia (they don't update as quickly when properties sell, and oftentimes have conflicting information).


How far away from town are you willing to go? The best farming grounds are in the Palmer area (but Palmer is very crowded and expensive), but land is cheaper and more rural going the other direction (on the Parks Hwy).
Willow and Talkeetna are "quite far away" (from an Anchorage-residents point of view - but from Wasilla Willow is really only about 30-40 minutes away). Don't know about farming out there, but land is cheaper and there is way more of it. And the organic vegetable buyers are mainly located in Anchorage and Talkeetna in my experience.

And I second MacKenzie Pointe (on KGB Hwy). The furthest out is about 30 minutes out from Wasilla, and land there is really cheap. Now, you might end up with some really crazy neighbors, but you can score a large enough property to where you can hopefully get away from them.
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Old 02-26-2018, 11:26 AM
 
Location: Wasilla, AK
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You might contact these guys: https://www.uaf.edu/snre/research/af...rch-extension/
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Old 02-26-2018, 01:42 PM
 
20,318 posts, read 26,373,243 times
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It's easy to find cheap property in most parts of Alaska and not so easy to find land that's suitable for farming. (ETA nobody said this guy "couldn't grow food" -- the point was more about how making a living farming is even a struggle for most experienced locals outside of long-established farms.)

Last edited by Metlakatla; 02-26-2018 at 01:55 PM..
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