Growing Rural Opportunities for Wellness (GROW) Program funds nine community projects

A Shungnak student tends the It’s a ‘We’ Community Garden, which provides learning opportunities and helps provide fresh vegetables for the village.

RurAL CAP’s Growing Rural Opportunities for Wellness (GROW) Program bolsters the food security of rural Alaska communities by providing funding and technical assistance to community gardens and local food security projects.

This project was made possible by funding provided by a Community Service Block Grant awarded to RurAL CAP through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). In December 2021, a committee reviewed twenty-five applications, selecting nine awardees in the following communities:

The Nome Community Center plans to increase the capacity of their community garden by building additional raised beds and adding a storage structure.

The Kodiak Island Fairgrounds Community Garden will build a fence around their garden, repair garden beds, build additional ones, and provide educational workshops for gardeners.

The Copper River Native Association will install raised beds with an irrigation system and provide educational workshops.

The Seldovia Can Grow Project will grow food hydroponically and work with students to develop a model for other rural communities.

The Native Village of Tetlin is founding their community garden by the Tetlin River and plans to build accessible raised beds.

The Tribal Government of St. Paul Island is creating an Unangax̂ Food Security Curriculum activity workbook to share knowledge of traditional subsistence and gardening practices.

Metlakatla Indian Community will hire a garden assistant and install an enclosure wall for one of the structures in the S’ndooyntgm Galts’ap, their community garden, to better capture heat and protect from wind.

The Wrangell Cooperative Association plans to purchase a commercial composter to bolster their current Community Composting program and improve the infrastructure of their Community Garden.

The Shungnak School’s It’s a ‘We’ Community Garden adds AeroGrow kits to their longstanding student-run garden.

In Homer, the Seldovia Can Grow team loads hydroponic growing equipment to be transported via water taxi across the Bay to the off-road community of Seldovia. During the course of their GROW project, all produce will be donated to Elders, school children, and low-income residents.

In addition, GROW is coordinating nine “Lunch & Learn” online conversations about gardening issues important to rural Alaskans. Presented live in cooperation with UAF’s Cooperative Extension Service, recordings of the series are available on RurAL CAP’s YouTube channel. The series features gardening experts from around Alaska as well as GROW community partners. All 300 registration slots for live, online attendance were filled within three weeks.

As current program funding ends in September 2022, RurAL CAP is working closely with community partners to establish relationships and connections to resources that ensure the long-term success of their GROW projects. Because of the great demand and interest in food security projects, the GROW team strives to expand the capacity of the GROW program beyond 2022 and actively seeks funding to address the need for local food production systems in rural Alaska communities.

For more information, contact the GROW team: [email protected]

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