Palmer’s 7th annual Drive Your Tractor To Work Day plows through turnout records

Around 40 tractors paraded through downtown Palmer to kick off the growing season
Around 40 tractors paraded through downtown Palmer to kick off the growing season
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 6:38 PM AKDT
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Temperatures may still be on the cooler side, but that didn’t stop a crowd of farmers from kicking off the agricultural growing season by taking part in the seventh annual Drive Your Tractor To Work Day. Around 40 tractors departed the Alaska State Fairgrounds at 9 a.m., cruising through town before landing at the downtown Palmer Pavillion for breakfast.

Parade organizer Arthur Keyes is a longtime farmer in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and also served as the former director of agriculture for the state’s Department of Natural Resources.

“I really felt there was an opportunity that was needed to raise awareness for agriculture here in the state, and so I drove [my] tractor seven years ago to the Division of Agriculture office for my day job,” Keyes said. “That’s how we began.”

While Keyes drove solo for the inaugural run, the event has picked up in popularity over the years.

“I can officially say this is the most tractors we’ve ever had,” Keyes said.

Joining in on the parade — and borrowing a tractor from the Alaska Plant Materials Center — was DNR Commissioner John Boyle.

“I think a lot of Alaskans don’t really appreciate how large of an agricultural community that we have, particularly out here in the Mat-Su Valley,” Boyle said. “Events like this just highlight and showcase what folks are doing here in the state when it comes to growing food and helping us become more food secure.”

The event serves as an opportunity for farmers to connect with each other as well as their consumers to promote Alaska Grown as a means of food security.

“Food security is a huge issue, especially since 2020 with COVID,” Keyes said. “Every farmer that you saw today driving these tractors in Palmer is working on your food security — the residents of Alaska. We are working on it, we are in this together, and we are looking forward to supporting the citizens of Alaska with fresh food.”