According to reports from the Alaska Division of Agriculture, the number of farmers markets in the state is on the rise. Due to its rugged climate, agriculture in Alaska is weaker than it is in the rest of the country and contributes a relatively small part of the state economy. With an average 100 day growing season, options for crop production are limited. Most of the farming that occurs in the state takes place in the southern region, near Anchorage.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the total value of Alaska’s agricultural production was about $30 million. When added together, the state has fewer than 700 farms.
Despite these small numbers, agriculture has seen a modest upswing in Alaska. In particular, farmers markets have become increasingly more popular, providing a vital link between consumers and Alaska’s limited number of producers. According to state agricultural officials, the number of seasonal farmers markets has increased from 13 in 2005 to 33 currently in operation.
These markets have transformed state agriculture, some farmers have claimed. Farmers markets typically sell produce for higher prices compared to supermarkets, allowing farmers to increase their profits. Consumers are willing to pay higher prices for fresher goods, so many farmers are directing more of their produce to local markets.
Like farmers across the country, small, local farming has been remarkably successful for Alaska farmers. Specialized crops help small farmers adapt to shorter growing cycles and making local connections helps guarantee long-term profitability.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer