Greenhouse could supply Cordova with fresh produce

A study is underway to decide whether to build a new greenhouse that would provide Cordova with fresh fruits and vegetables. The project is a joint venture of Prince William Sound Economic Development District and the Copper River Watershed Project.

An online public survey about the project will run until about Nov. 20. The survey can be accessed at surveymonkey.com/r/7LY382X.

A greenhouse could help improve Cordova’s food security even as the future of the ferry system remains uncertain, said environmental sustainability consultant Christopher Iannazzone, who is acting as project manager for the greenhouse initiative. The newly announced project receives input from an advisory board of community members, and is working to establish partnerships with community organizations, Iannazzone said.

“I’m a big believer in, the more people involved, the more organizations involved, the more this thing can stay together,” Iannazzone said. “The community really needs more local produce. I think this is a good model to do it. In years past, projects like this have been attempted and have just fizzled out, I think because there’s only been one organization or one entity leading the charge. That’s why we’d like to do this cooperative-style … because everyone could benefit from more local produce.”

The greenhouse project also met with produce supplier Kale’n Thyme to make sure that the two services wouldn’t end up competing by growing the same crops.

The feasibility study was made possible by a $8,903 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The study will investigate whether a greenhouse would be financially and technically sustainable. Potential issues include high winds putting the greenhouse in need of frequent repairs, Iannazzone said.

The project is consulting with the city to identify potential sites for the greenhouse. If the project goes ahead, construction is tentatively hoped to occur during the summer of 2022, Iannazzone said. Other projects under consideration include a residential and commercial composting program and a community “chaos garden” including a variety of crops.

“Every human being has a personal relationship with food that extends almost beyond any other relationships that you have,” Iannazzone said. “I can’t think of many things in my life that are more personal than the food I consume, and I think a lot of folks would feel the same.”