Where to find the freshest lettuce in Alaska? Try this freight container

Published: Mar. 7, 2019 at 6:34 PM AKST
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A small green freight container sits behind a popular stop along the Seward Highway, the Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ.

Inside is a hydroponic garden, dubbed the Indian Valley Farm. Its climate-control systems monitor for optimal humidity, pH balances, and temperature.

The "Freight Farm" system uses LED technology to mimic 18 hours of sunlight every day.

Owner Jack Goodsell moved the freight farm from Boston to Alaska as a way to provide fresher produce at his restaurant.

According to the manufacturer's website, these hydroponic setups cost around $110,000 to get up and running, but Goodsell says it cost him about $150,000 to get the unit to Alaska and begin farming. Now he's growing more leafy greens than both of his restaurants can use.

"Everything we grow, we harvest live, so it doesn't get fresher," Goodsell said. "The flavors of fresh grown versus what we ship up is incredible."

The enclosed garden is only a couple hundred square feet, but it can support a couple thousand plants if used strategically.

Goodsell regularly has more than 1,000 plants growing in his freight farm, and he says it only takes about five gallons of water daily to maintain that pace.

Goodsell's plants are harvested daily, regardless of the weather conditions outside. His crop boasts half a dozen species of lettuce, kale, Swiss chard, herbs and radishes. He says they're continuously adding new plants to the mix.

He says the surplus greens are among the freshest produce you'll find in Alaska, and can now be bought at either Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ location.