Two stories in the news this week highlighted farmers who are successfully growing crops in tough climate conditions.
An National Public Radio story last week showcased an Alaska farmer who is farming in the tundra near the town of Bethel. According to the story, last year he produced 50,000 pounds of potatoes, beets, carrots and other vegetables. All of this with a very short growing season and sunlight which ranges from almost none in the winter to nearly constant in the summer months. He acknowledged that warming in recent years has increased his growing period (Alaska is experiencing the greatest warming of anywhere in the US) but noted that what really makes the farming work is the wealth of rich soils that are “lush and loamy” due to the influx of glacial deposits from nearby rivers. You can read his story here.
A separate story in The Craftsman magazine discussed one small-scale California farmer’s use of sustainable management to develop deep and fertile soils in an area where hardpan commonly exists only a foot or so below the surface and water shortages are frequent. He only farms three acres but earns $100,000 per acre, according to the story, all without plowing, weeding, or spraying chemicals. He manages to get five to seven crops a year off his farm due to his management system. You can read about his farm here.