Kale’n Thyme brings container farming to Cordova

Locally grown, fresh produce for community is in beginning stages

Kristy Andrew, owner/farmer of Kale'n Thyme LLC, talks with a supporter during the Planning Commission's regular meeting at the Cordova Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. (Photo by Emily Mesner/The Cordova Times)

Sustainability, increased variety, and healthy choices are the key components to Kale’n Thyme LLC, a local business focusing on container farming in Cordova.

“Our mission is to provide the community of Cordova with fresh, leafy greens and herbs,” said Kristy Andrew, owner and farmer. “An informal survey showed that the majority of our community purchases their produce from the grocery store, but that quality and availability are the two biggest issues they face. We understand this challenge, and we want to provide the community with produce that is fresh, locally grown, full of nutrition, and consistently available.”

At the Planning Commission’s regular meeting on Sept. 11, Andrew’s conditional use permit application was approved. The commission amended the motion to include a special condition that the containers be connected to city water and sewer.

Andrew hopes to own up to two 40 X 9.5-foot farming containers, each with the growing capacity of approximately 1.8 acres, located at the south end of her property at 800 Chase Avenue.

Her home rests in a medium density residence district which does not allow accessory buildings to be operated for business, Andrew said.

“We feel having the containers located on my property will increase the safety and security of the farm, as well as keep operation costs at a minimum, which results in lower prices to the community,” she said.

Andrew moved to Cordova in the summer of 2016 and came across an article on an urban farm that provided food for the community through the use of re-purposed shipping containers.

“I wondered if a similar system would work in Alaska, and knew it would fill a huge need in Cordova,” Andrew said. “I formed Kale’n Thyme LLC in January 2017, and did a site visit to an active container-farming operation in Kotzebue, Alaska that summer.”

Kale’n Thyme will begin with a small variety of offerings, with the possibility of red leaf, green leaf, romaine, arugula, kale, chard, and herbs, Andrew said, though adding that nothing is set in stone at this time.

Greater variety of produce will be available once they expand to a second container; the selection will also be dependent on what the community wants.

Kale’n Thyme’s next step will be to secure funding for the project, including potential loan and grant applications.

“Once we have funding commitment, we will order the container and prepare the site!” she said.