HSC February 2023: Disaster Planning, Energy, and Growing Food

The Hoonah Stewardship Council met in February to discuss updates on the disaster planning process, the greenhouse and opportunities for hydroponics.

In attendance: Ian Johnson, Julian Narvaez, Jeromy Grant, Brynn Presler-Marshall, Neal Schoenfelder (USFS), Priscilla Morris (USFS), Mary Cook, Ben McLuckie, Angie Mendbayer (Southeast Conference), Lindsey Pierce (CCTHITA), Jason Gubatayao (Sealaska), Erica Drahozal (ISP), Arianna Lapke (U Michigan), Niccole Williams, Ernestine Abell, Elizabeth Figus, Jackie Dick, Olivia Pedroza

Disaster Planning

Last fall we held a disaster planning workshop with support from T&H and the Kuti Network to talk about disasters and community preparedness. A full post about the meeting and a recording will be available soon. People were particularly concerned about wildfire response, since the risk of wildfires is likely to increase due to climate change. HIA is currently working with the City, the Forest Service and first responders to make sure everyone is on the same page for disaster management activities. If there is particular information you’d like HIA to help provide you with or disasters you’re most concerned by, people let us know and we’ll help gather resources (both physical and informational) to help the community prepare. In the next few months we hope to help the city revise their disaster management plan and get more information out to individual households about actions they can take to help keep their families and loved ones safe.

If you’d like to see how the threats in Hoonah compare to risks elsewhere in Alaska, check out this Storymap!


We also heard from Ben McLuckie about how to set up your own hydroponics system so you can keep growing veggies year round. With the cost of food always on the rise, hydroponics is a great way to grow vegetables year-round indoors and there are a ton of different options depending on what your living space looks like and how many plants you’re trying to grow.

Hydroponics is a great way of growing a lot of food in a small amount of space, especially if you follow Ben’s method of using towers to stack the plants vertically. The roots of the plants hang directly into a nutrient-rich water instead of being buried in the dirt, which makes them take up a lot less space than conventional gardening. The simplest version is based out of a 4” PVC pipe and can hold up to forty plants–all for under a hundred dollars. Since the towers are located in his living room, he doesn’t have to pay any extra for keeping them warm, and the LED grow lights only cost about 6 dollars a month to keep on–even in the winter when he runs them 15 hours a day. The grow towers also require a water reservoir (a five gallon bucket), a pump and and a bubbler (a lot like a fish tank), but are simple enough you can build one in an hour.

If interest is high enough, we’ll try to hold a hydroponics workshop in the future to help people set up their own growing towers and hit the ground running with indoor vegetable production, so let us know if that’s something you’d like to see!

Some gardening resources

Since spring is just around the corner, here are a few documents to help kickstart your garden planning if you’re interested in growing some veggies this summer. As usual, HIA will be growing Tlingit potatoes in the large community bed, and smaller individual beds are available for personal use. If you’re interested in being involved with the community garden this year or have any questions about how to get your plants started, contact Ian!

Updates on the Biomass Facility

Plans for the greenhouse and biomass facility are well underway! We’re hoping to hire a Local Foods Coordinator any day now who will be responsible for finding the right greenhouse plans for Hoonah and helping to get the project off the ground. If you’re interested in becoming that person, head here to check out the qualifications and send in an application! While plans are still in development, the current thought is to have the 1800 square-foot greenhouse on the HIA lot behind the canoe shed with the biomass facility nearby to provide heat. Without the biomass facility, heating the greenhouse would cost almost 6,000 USD a month, which would make a head of lettuce even more expensive than from Trading. By using mill residuals and other biomass, the biomass boiler would help heat the greenhouse and keep costs down while also providing heating and electricity to a few other buildings in town. For more information on the biomass facility, go here.

While it’s still in development, here’s the latest map of where the greenhouse might go.

Climate Adaptation Planning

Finally, we’d like to invite everyone to a meeting on March 3 to talk about climate change and community adaptation strategies! If you have ideas of what projects you’d like to see us tackle or concerns about what climate change is going to do to Hoonah, join us next week in person or online to find out more!

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