Alaska will receive $2.6M towards small scale food production

An aerial view of green farmland with a mountainous backdrop.
Palmer farmland, the Butte, Lazy Mountain (Emily Russell/Alaska Public Media)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded over $2.6 million in funding to Alaska this year to improve the quality and quantity of locally grown food. The Micro Grants for Food Security Program provides up to $10,000 for residents and organizations that participate in small scale food production. The grants can be used to buy canning supplies, gardening tools and dip nets.  

Amanda Swanson is the Alaska program coordinator for the USDA. She said it’s not a lot of funding, but it packs a big punch. She said the program has helped feed more than 40,000 Alaskan’s in two years.

“Small projects can really help build a lot of food security and community,” she said.

This is the second year of the program. Swanson said Alaska’s food security challenges are unique because the state imports about 95% food. She said the entire state is considered food insecure but rural communities are more vulnerable to higher prices and shipping costs.

Swanson said many successful projects incorporate an educational component where kids and adults learn to grow and harvest their own food. She points to a 2023 project spearheaded by the Rendezvous Senior Day Center in Ketchikan working with seniors to plant Haida potatoes that fed the community. 

“They were proud that they contributed to lunches with homegrown vegetables. The Haida potato planting brought a sense of pride to continue Alaska Native history,” she said.

Swanson said the USDA grant program can help increase household and community food security over time because purchased items can be used for multiple growing seasons.

Swanson said those interested in getting started with food production should consider applying to the program. Along with small scale grants, there are other resources available at the USDA, she said.

Applications for the Micro Grants Food Security Program are open through March 15.

Previous articleUnalaska’s Muslim prayer group welcomes members from all over the world
Next articleAn angry moose and bare ground mark a brutal first quarter for Iditarod teams