Kodiak food co-op grows fresh produce for island residents

The majority of Kodiak’s produce is imported, which means the city and especially the villages often get old fruits and vegetables at higher prices than people in the Lower 48. One Kodiak food cooperative is in its second year of trying to remedy that.

Members of the Kodiak Bounty Co-op contribute a variety of vegetables like kale and turnips to boxes that customers in the city and villages will buy for $455 dollars per 13-week season, or $35 per box. That’s one box per week and 13 weeks overall.

Dana Myers is a gardner and one of the organizors of the co-op and says the group started last summer, when someone in Afognak contacted her requesting fresh vegetables.

“She was just tired of getting stuff that was rotten by the time it got out there. And, so, I tried it out and shared it with the other farmer’s market growers, so last season was an experimental season,” Myers said. “The most customers we were able to do in a week was 14, but we had 30 people that we were able to serve over the course of the season.”

She says the co-op is for the consumers, but it also provides support to the growers in how to handle their produce.

“We want to be able to find ways to sell it and take some of the stuff for some home gardners to do – the marketing, the pricing, the figuring out how to get it to the customer can be kind of difficult,” Myers said.

She says members will know what vegetable to contribute and how much. And, when it comes to transportation, the co-op should be an improvement over importation times from the Lower 48.

“We will try to coordinate the flights with the drop-offs, so we’ll be picking either the night before or the same morning as when you’re getting your produce, and of course, weather might be a real issue, but last season, I started harvesting at 6, picked up from a couple of other growers, got it dropped off at the airport, and it was in the village to the person at two o’clock that afternoon,” Myers said.

She says the season starts mid-June and the co-op will hold a meeting for growers on Friday.

“They’re gonna hear about how to plan, how to participate, how to get your produce to market, the requirements that you’re gonna have to meet to be able to participate, how much you can anticipate to make,” Myers said. “A lot of what they’re gonna hear is how easy it is, how immedaite the feedback is, how it’s incredible to talk with the customers one-on-one. Week after week, you have the same customers.”

That meeting will take place at 6 p.m. in the Kodiak Public Library.