Wave of Alaska Grown veggies heading to store shelves this week

Published: Jul. 5, 2017 at 5:09 PM AKDT
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Expect your local grocery store to look a bit greener in the coming days.

Agriculture officials say, many farmers in Alaska are making their first major harvests of the year.

“This is the week that the grocery stores are going to start seeing their Alaska Grown diversity increase exponentially,” said director of the Division of Agriculture Arthur Keyes.

The milder temperatures, cloudy days and wet weather have contributed to crops growing more slowly than in recent years, meaning local veggies are hitting store shelves a bit later than some had expected.

According to Palmer farmer Ben VanderWeele, his first crop of the season is about three weeks behind his anticipated grow schedule. He’s now expected to be making his first harvest on Wednesday.

“The season started off nice,” said VanderWeele. “The weather was pretty good in the early May. Then it took a nosedive.”

VanderWeele has been working his farm, VanderWeele Farm, for about 50 years. So far, he said this season has been on par with historical weather conditions, which is hard to go back to after a recent string of warm and sunny summers.

“Especially 2015 and 2016. They were so unbelievably good that we thought maybe this is the new norm. Unfortunately it didn't happen this year,” said VanderWeele.

Although the growing season is short, VanderWeele said all it takes is one full day of sun during Alaska’s long extended summer daylight to see explosive growth on the farm.