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About Juneau Community Greenhouses

Published on January 23, 2014 under Greenhouses

A. Mission

The mission of Juneau Community Greenhouses is to demonstrate how to improve Juneau’s sustainability and food security during a period of rapid environmental change.

B. Vision

Ten years from now, 10% of Juneau’s 13,000 households will grow a substantial portion of their vegetables, fruit and herbs in local greenhouse structures, operating year-round, and in home gardens.

C. Desired Outcomes

  1. Residents will learn what edible crops can be grown successfully in this climate.
  2. The growing season will be extended to 10 months a year or more.
  3. New crops will be introduced to the area, such as mushrooms.
  4. Permaculture principles will be demonstrated.
  5. Carbon-negative practices such as biochar will be introduced.
  6.  Juneau’s dependency on imported food will be reduced.
  7. Greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced.
  8. Local waste products will be used in food production.
  9. Principles of sustainability will be embraced and propagated.
  10. Growers around Juneau will have active community support.
  11. The indigenous community’s subsistence knowledge and practices will be preserved.
  12. Plant varieties appropriate for this latitude will be determined and shared.
  13. Pitfalls will be identified, overcome and made known.
  14. Local youth will understand and value principles of ecology.
  15.  A network of community greenhouses in CBJ will be established.
  16. Demand for local agricultural products will increase.
  17. Local food producers will experience wide government support.
  18. Everyone in Juneau will have access to local, affordable, fresh food.
  19. Services offered by Cooperative Extension will be better utilized.
  20. Use of pesticides and weedkillers will be reduced or eliminated.
  21. Energy sources such as wind and solar will become more common.
  22. Gardening will become more popular among homeowners and renters.
  23. The quantity of foodstuffs imported to Juneau will decrease.
  24. More imports will arrive via sustainable transport modes (such as sail).
  25. Seed-saving techniques and practices will be more widespread.
  26. Preservation of food (canning, drying, pickling etc.) will become more common.
  27. Unsustainable practices in food procurement will be reduced through greater reliance on the plant kingdom for calories.
  28. There will be increased appreciation for the natural environment, and a higher degree of custodianship (less dumping of litter and other pollutants).
  29. Use of plastic will decrease and plastic wastes will not enter our waters.
  30. The percentage of households recycling and repurposing waste products will increase.
  31. Consumption of disposable products will decrease.
  32. Local ecosystems will thrive.
  33. Diet-related health trends (obesity, diabetes, heart disease) will improve.
  34. Seedlings nurtured in the Community Greenhouse will be available to other growers.


A. Improve Sustainability: Improving quality of life for present and future generations, balancing social, environmental and economic interests.(1)

Approach: Adopt measures that render Juneau more self-sufficient in the long term and
reduce its environmental impacts.

Greenhouses: Increase gardening activities in Juneau, lengthen local food production season, increase yield through intensive practices, and demonstrate feasibility and desirability of greenhouse agriculture.

B. Mitigate Climate Change: Climate models predict that the City and Borough of Juneau will see overall continued warmer and wetter weather, particularly in fall and winter. The Juneau Icefield will continue to retreat. The land surface, rising as a result of isostatic rebound, will decrease the relative sea level between 1.0 and 3.6 ft over the next century.(2) However, Growing Degree Days (GDDs) will increase.

Approach: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions through natural methods such as biochar production and prepare for coming environmental changes.

Greenhouses: Every edible grown locally reduces the need for one to be barged in, reducing emissions; warmer climate permits greater variety of crops; more rain means the protection of a greenhouse structure is critical in providing an adequate growing season.

C. Increase Food Security: “Danny Consenstein, state executive director of the Alaska Farm Service Agency, […] also a member of the Alaska Food Policy Council, said that in 1955, about half of Alaska’s food came from outside the state. Now that number is up to 95 percent.” (3) Our supply chain can be broken or threatened by extreme weather or man-caused events both farand near, or even a breakdown in one vessel. We are completely dependent on others to bring us our food
or the fuel we’ll use to get it. And we know the system isn’t always reliable — planes don’t always fly and boats don’t always come in. (4) The population of Alaska grew from 128,643 in 1950 to 710,231 in 2010, more than 550%. In Juneau the 1950 population was 5,956, in 2010 – 31,275; this is growth of 525%.(5) Stockpiling food is difficult in average housing stock which tends to be crowded due to chronic shortage of affordable housing.(6)

Approach: Increase local food sourcing in a sustainable manner.

Greenhouses: Improve capacity of CBJ to grow its own food and demonstrate principles of organic horticulture, permaculture, and carbon-negative impacts.


1 CBJ Comprehensive Plan, Policy 2.1.
4 Food for Thought UAS Cooperative Extension, Darren Snyder
6 CBJ Comprehensive Plan, pg. 29 ff