Behind the scenes: Alaskan peony farming

May 24, 2016 | By | Comments (5)
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(Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

Last summer I took the best trip of my life. It was a mere four nights, and very much a work trip, but it was nonetheless the most inspiring, beautiful trip I’ve ever taken.

Linda and me on a boat, led by Michelle LaFriniere of Chilly Root Peony Farm. (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

Linda and me crossing Kachemak Bay, led by Michelle LaFriniere of Chilly Root Peony Farm. (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

Along with photo editor Linda Peters and staff photographer Thomas J. Story, I flew to Homer, Alaska to cover the gold rush taking place in the form of peony farming.

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The end of the season at Alaska Perfect Peony. (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

After many failed attempts to build an export market for something other than fish or oil, Alaskans might have finally found their niche with summer peonies—something they can produce when no one else in the world can.

Chilly Root's fields about to burst open (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

Fields and crew at Chilly Root Peony Farm (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

The farmers are almost exclusively women, entirely badass, and the setting is breathtaking. Pick up our June issue to read the full story.

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Beth Van Sandt, owner of Scenic Place Peonies. She runs her farm entirely through WWOOF volunteers, in case you’re looking for an adventure. She’s also got a charming B&B. (Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

Midnight sun meant we had plenty of time to get our work done and still eat! Hike! Drink beer! See a moose! And a bear (which, when we saw it in the same place for the second day, realized was just a stump).

I found the farmer's secret napping spot! (Johanna Silver / Sunset Publishing)

I found the farmer’s secret napping spot! (Johanna Silver / Sunset Publishing)

There were too many pretty images that couldn’t fit on the page, so I’m sharing a few more here.

On our final day, we hopped on a boat to cross the bay and take a hike to the glacier.

View from the boat! This is the day I learned all about wild berries

We’ve also freshened up our peony slideshow, for your enjoyment. And you can read another post I did about the local flower scene in Homer.

(Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

(Thomas J. Story / Sunset Publishing)

Last tip: Get yourself to Alaska.

 

 

COMMENTS

  1. Yinda Yee Yam

    The best trip ever!

    August 17, 2016 at 8:41 pm
  2. Simple Summer Decor Tips – My Sweet Cottage

    […] goodbye to the beautiful peony until next year.  But is it?  As mentioned in Sunset Magazine and on Sunset’s blog, some farmers in Alaska are growing July-blooming peonies.  So maybe there is a chance that we […]

    June 13, 2016 at 9:35 pm
  3. Simple Summer Decor Tips – My Sweet Cottage

    […] goodbye to the beautiful peony until next year.  But is it?  As mentioned in Sunset Magazine and on Sunset’s blog, farmers in Alaska are growing summer-blooming peonies.  So maybe there is some hope that we will […]

    June 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm
  4. Maureen McKenzie

    I introduced Alaska to the dietary supplement ingredient market, a story that is rarely told. I admire the peony growers and believe we could converge through Paeonia lactiflora for health-related applications. Please see my company’s website at http://www.denalibiotech.com and our FB page at Denali BioTechnologies, Inc. Thank you.

    May 28, 2016 at 8:07 am
  5. Kim Herning

    Beautiful pictures – mountains, ocean and peonies ! We peony farmers in Interior Alaska can’t compete with the scenery, but we can compete with our shear numbers…we have over 40 farms up here in the Fairbanks area. And we would Love for you and your readers to come and see what we are all about too.

    May 27, 2016 at 11:17 am

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