Living in a place where 95% of our food is imported, we believe food sovereignty and environmental stewardship are topics that warrant as much consideration as reading, writing, and arithmetic. In Coffman Cove, Alaska, the school and community got together to create a vision for how our empty spaces could be used. We fenced in a 100' x 100’ (10,000 square foot) area and started developing a greenhouse, chicken coop, composters, fruit trees, berry bushes, and potato beds. By growing our own food, we are also growing the health of our children, our economy, and our community, to create a wholesome space for teaching and learning. Through this project, we are not only empowering our own children and our own school… we are inspiring Alaska, we are challenging our country, and we are reviving our planet.
If you were to look up the work “unsustainable” in the dictionary, you’d probably find the synonym, “Alaska’s current food system”. Essentially, there is no ‘local’ fresh produce available for purchase, as we are located in the heart of the Tongass National Forest on Prince of Wales Island. Our nearest city, Ketchikan, population 8,000, is a 30- minute floatplane or three-hour ferry ride, and has no agricultural operations. All fresh produce is shipped here by barge from Seattle. Southeast Island School District is taking drastic, progressive measures change the paradigm from that of dependence, ignorance, consumption (only), cost, and convenience (unhealthy), to a system that creates empowerment, educational opportunities, economic growth, and healthy alternatives. We are revitalizing our school garden by building garden beds, cold frames, purchasing ducks, transplanting fruit trees, fixing our fence, and building cold frames. We preparing for the summer growing season and getting ready for next fall when our students return. We need tools, lumber, animals, composting systems, seeds, and more. Once everything is operational, we will not only be serving healthy food in our own school, we will be selling eggs and produce for years to come.