Column: Native youth help provide food for their community

The community garden in Tyonek, Alaska. Photo from Tyonek Tribal Conservation District

The Tyonek Native Corporation is leasing land to the Native Village of Tyonek and the Tyonek Tribal Conservation District for a community garden:
The village decided it wanted a community garden in 2010. To make this possible, the Tyonek Native Corporation leased the land for the garden to the tribe, and the Tyonek Tribal Conservation District (TTCD) was asked to manage it. Formed in 2005, TTCD was the first tribal conservation district in Alaska and the 31st in the nation, created through a mutual agreement between the village, the Native corporation and the USDA.

The garden is intended to enhance food security and provide organic vegetables for the Dena’ina Athabascan village. Three seasons in, the garden now has two high tunnels, solar-powered irrigation and ventilation systems, 15 raised beds, 1,000 feet of potatoes, 45 rhubarb plants, rows of raspberries and plans for expansion in the coming years.

This year, the garden produced 1,400 pounds of produce, which included tomatoes, peas, green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, lettuce, radishes, onions, scallions and herbs. At a harvest celebration in August, residents even munched on fresh Tyonek corn on the cob.

Students have been engaged in every step of the farming process. That includes planting and caring for the seeds in the school, transplanting them into the garden in spring, weeding, harvesting and helping distribute to community elders. This summer, four local high schoolers were employed to help TTCD manage the garden.

Get the Story:
Shannon Kuhn: For students in Tyonek, the garden is a classroom (The Alaska Dispatch News 10/9)

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