Telling Alaska’s Story: Spring Creek Farm in Palmer
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Spring Creek Farm in Palmer is fulfilling a purpose given to the land long ago, to continue the education of local farmers.
Summertime at the farm is a busy time. Workers are harvesting vegetables for the farm’s Community-Supported Agriculture program while camps for children are ongoing. None of the activity on the 700-acre parcel where the farm is located would be possible if it weren’t for the woman who donated the land.
Louise Kellogg came to Alaska in 1948 and began buying farmland, something that was difficult for a single woman at the time. Eventually, she opened the first Grade A dairy in the state, while she continued to buy neighboring parcels that eventually grew her land to over 800 acres. Shannon O’Laughlin is the field school coordinator for APU at the Kellogg Spring Creek Farm campus and lives in Kellogg’s original cabin on the property.
“She did end up becoming a wildly successful dairy farmer, but she was also, from my understanding, an incredible asset to the community,” O’Laughlin said . “She was involved in local politics, different community service organizations, and was really a fixture in the community of Palmer.”
Kellogg eventually put her property into a trust, which was granted to APU to oversee with a requirement that some of the land be preserved for education.
“Her idea of education, and this place being an educational facility, was that education doesn’t just happen in books, it happens through life experiences,” said O’Laughlin.
Today the farm is the home of APU’s Outdoor and Environmental Education Program, where APU graduate students and summer interns get hands-on experience working on the farm. The Kellogg Campus, as it’s known, also offers grad students the opportunity to teach in the Kellogg Field School on campus which offers classes to home-schooled children during the school year.
The CSA program on the farm keeps the staff busy.
“People sign up at the beginning of the year and then get a box of vegetables from us every week,” Farm Manager Ben Swimm said. “It’s a great model for farmers, it helps with funding farms, it helps keep local farms alive.”
Swimm said the farm also produces vegetables for the APU campus, as well as other wholesale accounts, including restaurants.
“It’s a mix of kind of traditional agricultural stuff, and some experimental crops and growing methods that we use,” Swimm said. “Which kind of ties to what we do with education and a little bit of research here, too.”
Swimm said the farm works to introduce new people to farming sustainably, with the idea of increasing food security.
“It’s important that we are investing in new farm projects, new places to grow food and new people to grow food,” Swimm said.
The continuing educational programs hosted on the farm are likely something Louise Kellogg would have approved of.
Kellogg died in 2001 and is buried on the property. Despite her death, it seems, her legacy lives on.
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