I spent 4 days this week working at Arctic Organics– one of the first and oldest organic farms in Alaska. After 8 weeks chasing various adventures, the simple, humble manual labor was intensely valuable. I’ve been staying in Palmer with my good friend Margaret who is the director of The Alaska Farmland Trust. Her group is working to preserve farmland in Alaska and grow the local food movement I cannot speak more highly of her efforts. She put me in touch with Sara and River who own Arctic Organics, and they introduced me to a carrot field that needed weeding… lots of weeding. I shared the work with a fun team of other kids in their 20s, working hard in the fresh air and pulling an enormous mass of unwanted biota from the carrot beds. It’s good to get your hands dirty.
True to the website statement, Arctic Organics is leading the charge for local organic food in Alaska, and while I did appreciate getting paid for my efforts, it felt like a privilege to be a part of their operation even if only for a short time. Nowhere else in the country perhaps is the issue of local food and sustainability so important- if food was not flown to Alaska in airplanes it is estimated that the state would start facing food shortages in as little as 3 days. Do you know where your food comes from?
The opportunity also spurs some thoughts on labor- I couldn’t help but relish the feeling of looking down a freshly cleared bed after several hours of working on my knees. It’s a Case for Working with Your Hands, and a reminder that while work often prevents us from playing, it is also essential to balance the endless play I have had the pleasure of experiencing this summer. I have to admit, it felt good to go to work in the morning (but also that my knees didn’t feel so good after 4 days on the ground…). I look forward to including other new and varied work experiences along my travels, as well as considering what other options might give me more fulfillment in a permanent work arrangement.