780 AM | 96.1 FM 

“YOURS FOR WESTERN ALASKA”

(907) 443-5221

Produce Coming Soon From Pilgrim Hot Springs Farming Project

Mountain View at Pilgrim Hot Springs. Photo: Maddie Winchester, KNOM
Mountain view at Pilgrim Hot Springs. (Photo: Maddie Winchester, KNOM)

Nome residents could soon be able to buy locally grown vegetables from Pilgrim Hot Springs at a market stand in town.

Thanks to the Pilgrim Produce program, which receives some funding from a USDA grant, various crops are currently being grown at Pilgrim Hot Springs on Unaaqtuq land. Unaaqtuq is a consortium of organizations and Native corporations, such as White Mountain and Mary’s Igloo, that has partnered with groups like the Bering Straits Development Company (BSDC).

Robert Bensin is the construction manager with BSDC. He says:

“The staple ones are definitely the potatoes and the onions, and we’ve definitely gone real big. If we get to what the average yield is per plant for the potatoes, we are probably looking at a few thousand pounds. As with the onions, there is definitely a few thousand onions already, in the ground, that are doing very well.”

Bensin is one of the few people who is regularly found at Pilgrim with his boots on the ground and hands in the dirt. He explains why it’s beneficial to have the option to buy locally grown produce.

“Well it’s organic, so: GMO-free, no pesticides, no fertilizers — well, no bad fertilizers — obviously, you know, (we use) compost — and it will be competitive with the local markets here in town.”

For the other plants growing out at Pilgrim, including celery, squash, pumpkins, and much more, Bensin says it’s hard to say what the yield will be at this point in the season.

Last summer, in 2016, the test garden that produced a crop harvest from a 1-acre plot of land received a dusting of snow during the first week of September, forcing the team to end their growing season.

Plant starters in April prepared to be planted at Pilgrim Hot Springs. Photo Credit: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM (2017)
Plant starters in April prepared to be planted at Pilgrim Hot Springs.
Photo Credit: Margaret DeMaioribus, KNOM (2017)

This summer, Bensin says they started growing earlier than last time, but how much time they have to grow is uncertain:

“It’s really just, you know, keeping an eye on the weather and keeping an eye on the road conditions, as well, because that dictates when you get in and out of there for the end of the season.”

Overall, there have been many challenges to maintaining a growing farm next to the Hot Springs, such as voles snacking on the crops, beavers damming up culverts, which blocks water flow, and accessing the site on a regular basis.

Bensin suggests that transporting the plants to and from Pilgrim is most difficult:

“It’s the logistics, it’s starting the starts here in town and having to transport them out there. Still, we have to see what it’s going to take to get them back, once we harvest, what it’s going to take to get everything back here to market.”

Pilgrim Produce hopes to have a weekly farmer’s market stand within Nome city limits starting up on Saturdays sometime this summer. According to Bensin, more information about the vegetables for sale, the selling times, and the stand location will be forthcoming.

Share this story

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email

Recent Posts

MS Westerdam Passengers Recall Icy Approach to Nome

Holland America’s MS Westerdam has arrived in Nome. The cruise ship that holds over 1,900 passengers is anchored just off the coast of Nome, too big to dock in the port. Small tenders that hold about 80 passengers each are ferrying visitors to and from the shore throughout the day.

Read More »

First-Ever KNOM Radio Music Fest Draws a Crowd, Drives Donations

Performer Selma Casagranda serenaded audience members with a few of her original songs. Casagranda is from Seward and one of four finalists from KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search. Audience members joined the King Island dance group for an invitational dance. One of KNOM’s 2023 American Idol search finalists, Martin Paul

Read More »

June 20: Rick Thoman’s Climate Highlight for Western Alaska

The following is a transcript from Rick Thoman’s weekly “Climate Highlight for Western Alaska” provided to KNOM Radio. Thoman is a Climate Specialist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The largest wildfire on the Seward Peninsula since 2019, the Goldbug Fire,

Read More »

Westerdam: First Visitors Expected Around 8 a.m.

Holland America’s MS Westerdam cruise ship will anchor just outside of the Nome Harbor the morning of June 21, bringing with it a wave of tourists to Nome.  According to City of Nome Harbormaster Lucas Stotts, the ship’s passengers will first arrive by tender around 7:45 a.m. The last tender

Read More »

More

Newsletter:

Work for Us:

Jobs

Contact

Nome:

(907) 443-5221 

Anchorage:

(907) 868-1200 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that KNOM Radio Mission is located on the customary lands of Indigenous peoples. 

Based in the Bering Strait region, KNOM broadcasts throughout the homelands of the Iñupiaq, Siberian Yup’ik, Cup’ik and Yup’ik peoples.