Do you remember when everyone was talking about how 2016 was a rubbish year? Everyone exclaimed as the new year came on that 2017 would be filled with hope and promise, the light at the end of the tunnel with only good things to come. We were most certainly on that boat. Although we can’t speak to the world stage, here at Foundroot we are going to declare 2017 a roaring success–albeit a painstaking one. We emptied the entirety of our business account, spent countless hours threading seedlings from the buttercup, cut the first 1/4 acre of our production field almost entirely by hand, broke and fixed every piece of equipment we own (and borrowed), and have never before been so tired, dirty, and sore. But we did it.
We successfully overwintered 9 out of our 12 herbs including several sage and lavender plants and proceeded to add 8 more medicinal and culinary herbs to the mix. Our Sylvetta Arugula overwinterd in full force and we took care to let it perennialize along with our seed saving efforts. All 10 of our perennial flower varieties happily came up in the spring and we enjoyed two biennial flowers that we saved more seed from. Our family threw on overalls and picked up a hoe to fight alongside us and save our crops, not to mention catching salmon for us so our freezer would have more than just broccoli in it. We planted even more flowers, countless joyful perennial flowers and finally stopped felling trees long enough to plant raspberry canes, currant bushes, cultivated strawberries, other above-ground perennials that brought more smiles to our faces. We plugged logs with mushroom spawn and began moving hardy plants over to our food forest. We built a proper compost bin. We finished pulling stumps and the burn piles disappeared.
In spite of a cool and wet summer, the challenges of a new field, and generally having a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants experimental year, we grew some food in our production field. Our friends, neighbors, and local restaurants bought that food from us–over 1,000 pounds of food to be exact. Far too much of this was in the form incredibly large cabbage. With 5+ pound cabbages coming out of our ears we started selling Sauerkraut Kits and taught some of our community the value of fermented foods. We also dabbled in shipping produce and sent some kits over to our neighbors in Skagway. The Pilotlight and The Fireweed restaurants in Haines kindly created specials with our produce as it became available. We brought pounds of anise hyssop, lemon balm, and wormwood to the Port Chilkoot Distillery to make their lovely absinthe. We sold bulk bags of beets, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes for locals to pickle and store for winter. We aren’t feeding the lot of them yet but it was most certainly a start.
Our greatest celebration in 2017 came when our biennial seed crops made it through the winter. It is unsurprising that one of these is the White Russian Kale that we received local seed stock of last year. Already adapted to our wet, cold ground, we produced healthy Kale trees that we staked and re-staked to keep from beheading themselves. In the end, they gave us a bounty of healthy seed. We are so proud to announce that this will be our first commercial seed crop for sale in 2018. We will continue to build on this success when we replant two different pea and two flower varieties that are now in their second generation. With one more summer we hope to have the confidence to offer them for sale in 2019. Additionally, we will be producing second generation seed from 4 more flower varieties, both of our arugula varieties, the exciting and unusual Rat Tail Radish, Dark Star Zucchini, Uchiki Kuri Squash, and additional Alaska-grown offerings soon after. 2018 is shaping up to be the moment when we finish laying the groundwork and start realizing our dream of commercially available, Alaska Grown seed.
Our bold two year transition in moving our business, home, and lives to Haines, AK is finally coming to completion. We have a garden, a farm, a house (well, a yurt). We are building community and trying to finish and up what we’ve started. For all intents and purposes, it seems to have worked. So far so good and for that, we thank you. Without your support of Foundroot over the last 5 seasons, we never would have made it to this place. You have made us farmers, stewards of land and seed.
Here’s to another year of breaking bread and planting seeds,
Leah & Nick