It's no secret that Alaska faces challenges when it comes to agriculture. With our cold climate and short growing season, farming isn't easy; but it isn't impossible either. As a matter of fact, Alaskan agriculture is in some sense thriving. Sure, we don't support the kind of mega agribusiness that one finds in the Lower 48, but the demand for locally grown food has never been higher.
Just take a look at the number of farmers' markets in the state: 33, up from only 13 in 2005 (see the complete list here). These markets, which are held throughout the state from Sitka to Fairbanks to Bethel, are a boon for local entrepreneurs, since they provide a venue for small farm, food, and craft vendors to sell their wares. These are mostly family-run, small volume enterprises that operate seasonally.
According to a recent article in the Alaska Journal of Commerce, and another in the Anchorage Daily News, the demand for local produce is high. Farmers like Arthur Keyes, mentioned in both articles, can sell produce directly to consumers through farmers' markets, and to retailers like Carr's and Fred Meyer.
Yet, the overwhelming majority of food consumed in the state has to be transported here, despite the demand for local food. Clearly, this is a problem that can be resolved with some entrepreneurial talent.
If you have any interest in a food-production business, be sure to visit our new agribusiness section in our Resource Library. We will be updating it with fresh information regularly.
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