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Community Garden Blooms in Unalakleet

For Cassandra Johnson, the lack of fresh produce in her hometown was the inspiration she needed to start a community garden in Unalakleet last year. Now, as the second growing season approaches, her garden is once again preparing to take root.

Unalakleet, a village located about 150 miles southeast of Nome, was once known as the “garden capital of the state.” But in recent years, access to fresh fruits and vegetables has dwindled. Johnson saw an opportunity to change that.

“The soil is pretty good. I just need to add more nutrients to it,” Johnson explained. “Whenever we have a storm, there is exposed clay, organic matter, sand and river mulch, and it naturally provides all of what you need to make your own soil. You just have to know what to look for.”

This season, Johnson plans to grow a variety of produce, including lettuce, kale, potatoes, carrots, dill, and garlic. She advises others looking to start their own community gardens to be flexible.

“Every year is always going to be different. You just never know, especially with the weather,” Johnson said.

To help support her efforts, Johnson was awarded two grants from community organizations. These funds will allow her to hire interns and host a summit in July, where 12-15 individuals from around the region will gather to learn about sustainable agriculture practices.

With the garden’s second season on the horizon, Johnson is hopeful that her efforts will inspire others in the community to get involved and rediscover the joys of fresh, locally-grown produce.

Lettuce grow!

Image at top: Youth picking fresh produce from the community garden. Photo courtesy of Cassandra Johnson, used with permission.

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