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Pilgrim Hot Springs Revive Farming Effort

This summer, Pilgrim Hot Springs planted a small test crop in an attempt to revive their produce garden that grew from 2016 to 2018.

Geothermal springs make the grounds of Pilgrim’s former Catholic orphanage ideal for growing vegetables – a unique opportunity in a region that relies on shelf-stable products like dry and canned goods.

“Many have called Pilgrim a microclimate in itself, just because of the way it is sheltered from the mountains. And then because of the geothermal hotspot we have the trees that protect from the wind and the soil is warm, you know, it doesn’t freeze. There is no permafrost in that area,” said Amanda Toerdal, general manager.

This summer, grant funds and diligent labor have provided a small garden that distributes fresh vegetables to surrounding communities. They hope to expand garden production by next summer.

Right now, Toerdal is busy refining the plan to get fresh produce to as many communities as possible.

“The main goal is to find a distribution model that works. So, if that’s sending out our vegetables weekly on planes or working with a local distributor or the village stores, we’re not sure yet,” Toerdal said.

She and her staff hope to build greenhouses for winter gardening, and to preserve vegetables on-site so the harvest lasts longer.

Image at top: The vegetable garden at Pilgrim Hot Springs.

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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.