ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Community leaders in Cordova are gauging the public interest in starting a greenhouse cooperative for the city.

The joint venture between the Copper River Watershed Project and Prince William Sound Economic Development District received a Department of Agriculture Rural business development grant for a feasibility study.

“I think there’s multiple benefits. We’re kinda isolated out here, we’re off the road system, only accessible by ferry and plane,” Chris Iannazzone, project manager for Cordova Greenhouse Initiative, said. “We don’t know how the ferry’s going to be in the next coming years, and just having that dependence on an outside source for produce is kinda scary. Because if that line of connection gets cut off, then we’re kind of cut off from being able to receive that produce.”

The idea is to create a cooperative business model that is self-supported by its members once it’s up and running.

Iannazzone says that right now, in addition to gauging public interest, the team is scoping potential sites and researching structure needs necessary for withstanding Cordova’s winters.

In addition to increasing food security, having locally grown produce would provide residents with fresher foods and produce less waste.

“Locally produced products then don’t have the plastic packaging or carbon footprint,” Lisa Docken with Copper River Watershed Project said. “We are a kind of terminal port for a lot of stuff, and it may come in and it may not leave. So just thinking about that from the environmental aspect as well, there’s a lot of benefits to locally produced things.”

An online survey allows Cordova residents to share their interest in the project.

Iannazzone said the team is also considering whether the best path forward is to have one large greenhouse that is centrally located or multiple smaller greenhouses in different areas.

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