HSC : July Meeting Discusses Large Greenhouse in Hoonah

Committee Meeting Notes – Hoonah Stewardship Council Greenhouse Meeting

Date: Jul 20, 2023

In Attendance: Elizabeth Figus, Kathy Dilley, Neal Schoenfelder, Amelia Wilson, Jennifer Nu, Stephanie Harold, Jackie Dick, Erica Drahozal, Jeromy Grant, Rebekah Sawers, Julian Narvaez, Ian Johnson, Ryan Smith

Meeting Goal: Get everyone up to speed on HIA large greenhouse that we hope to start construction on this autumn. The greenhouse’s goal is to provide food security and affordable produce for Hoonah while creating jobs and involving youth. We will be selling directly at a Farmer’s market that we’d like to establish for Hoonah and through Hoonah’s stores. 

These are examples of bato buckets that we will be using in the greenhouse

Meeting Notes:

Hoonah Stewardship Council gathered to discuss the exciting HIA large greenhouse project, which is set to begin construction this autumn. The primary objective of the greenhouse is to enhance food security and provide affordable produce to Hoonah residents while simultaneously creating job opportunities and engaging the youth. The community intends to sell the produce directly at a newly developed local Farmer’s Market, a venture they hope to establish, as well as through Hoonah’s local stores.

The meeting kicked off with a warm welcome and expressions of gratitude for everyone’s active involvement in the discussion regarding the greenhouse project.

The project overview revealed that the greenhouse will cover an area of 1800 square feet. Hoonah Indian Association’s cultivation plan includes implementing 50 vertical towers utilizing aeroponics, each capable of holding 54 plants, resulting in a total of 2700 plants. Additionally, they plan to employ 48 Dutch or Bato Buckets for vine crops, accommodating two plants per bucket, totaling 96 plants.

During the meeting, community members addressed the needs and concerns of the Hoonah residents related to the greenhouse project, ensuring their voices were heard.

The meeting allowed members to share their desired local plants, including spinach, kale, melons, fruit “lots of fruit” and various other varieties they would love to see grown in the greenhouse.

Example of the growing towers we’ll be using for lettuce, herbs, and greens

A discussion was brought up about the possibility of cultivating exotic plants or crops that are currently unavailable in the region. Please see attached Google Forms for a complete list of fruits, vegetables, and herbs that can be grown in the greenhouse.

Regarding community involvement and employment opportunities, the idea of volunteers and/or paid positions for gardeners within the greenhouse project was presented to encourage active participation and interest from the residents. 

One member had a question about the possibility of the greenhouse participating in a cooperative model to reduce the cost of the produce or compensate contributors for their work. Answer: We express openness to exploring such options and creating a network of volunteers to actively engage Hoonah residents in the greenhouse project.

In the meeting, it was also asked about the frequency of harvests, with the community seeking a sustainable schedule that ensures a consistent supply of fresh produce without compromising plant growth.

Acknowledgment that there are certain limitations of hydroponic systems that are not best suited for root vegetables, and we can not mix soil and hydroponics in the same grow space.

Youth engagement emerged as a priority, with us aiming to develop a curriculum and provide hands-on learning opportunities within the greenhouse project to inspire the younger generation’s interest.

The greenhouse project also aims to provide fresh food to the school lunch program. The city school intends to explore USDA retroactive reimbursement for lunches utilizing locally grown food (Farm-to-School), supporting the health and well-being of Hoonah’s schoolchildren.

Furthermore, the community discussed the potential of establishing a local Farmers Market in Hoonah, a platform for selling greenhouse produce and other locally grown/made items. We will be able to offer a $1 per $1 match for SNAP cards (up to $40 or $80 total) using a program that will ensure greater accessibility to fresh produce for community members.

Another attendee asked if the committee had any strategies to ensure the long-term sustainability of the greenhouse project, both environmentally and economically. Answer: We are looking into sustainable alternatives to help reduce the operating cost of the greenhouse, and this will most likely happen next year

Another idea that was mentioned by an attendee was establishing a separate “Community Committee” to oversee the greenhouse project, which we presented for further discussion and potential implementation.

We encourage collective input, and community members are invited to review and contribute to the list of herbs and plants suitable for cultivation in the greenhouse. (Google Form Link Below)

Lastly, the meeting highlighted the importance of composting to promote sustainable practices and reduce waste within the greenhouse project. 

Please help by submitting your input randomly by completing the Google Form using this link

Greenhouse Questionnaire – Google Forms

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