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Alaska's Agriculture: Entrepreneur Tarn Coffey's Unique Bet on Corn and Beyond

2023

Tarn Coffey, an Alaskan businessman with a deep love for Nenana, a small community in Alaska, is embarking on a farming venture that could change the face of agriculture in the region. Coffey, who owns an automobile service business in Anchorage, commutes from Nenana and has now set his sights on cultivating corn in the Nenana-Totchaket Agriculture Project.

The Nenana-Totchaket Project has been in the works for decades, and Coffey secured five parcels of land, totaling about 225 acres, in a recent state agricultural land sale. Nenana has long been recognized for its agricultural potential, and Coffey's innovative approach could open up new possibilities for the region.

To achieve this, Coffey is experimenting with Gaspe corn, a hardy northern variety known for its resilience and nutrition. Unlike traditional sweet corn, Gaspe corn is not for human consumption but serves as excellent animal feed, an essential factor in Alaska's farming ventures.

With the state's next Nenana-Totchaket land sale planned in 2024, other farmers have an opportunity to explore the possibilities of agricultural growth in the region. By learning from past projects, the state is taking a phased approach to ensure the success of future farming endeavors.

Coffey is eager to share knowledge with Canadian farmers, who have extensive experience in northern agriculture. He believes that Alaskans can draw inspiration from Canada's success in producing protein-rich food plants like lentils, which have the potential to thrive in the northern climate.

Alaska's farming potential is often underestimated, according to Coffey, who is confident that with the right approach, the region can become a significant player in the agricultural landscape. As he continues his experiments with corn and other vegetables, Coffey's vision is to demonstrate the untapped potential of Alaskan agriculture and pave the way for future generations of farmers.

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