Grow Palmer: A Meal For Hungry Alaskans

Contributed by Taylor Berberich

I am a lifelong Alaskan, the daughter of an accountant and a high school ag teacher. Unfortunately, I did not inherit my mom’s aptitude for numbers, but I did develop an affinity for agriculture at roughly the same time I learned how to walk. I loved to tag along when Dad went to the high school agriculture building and “help” water plants, pull weeds and imagine I was Indiana Jones (among a tangle of tomato vines) in a jungle somewhere fighting bad guys.

I grew up with the ability to grow my own food, and I understood the benefits that local foods have on our health and economy. However, many Alaskans never have the chance to observe food growing; urban and extreme rural living make growing food difficult.

Jan Newman, founder, manager and operator of Grow Palmer, is challenging the ideals of where food should grow. Jan started Grow Palmer in 2013 with the vision that everyone can share the rewards of growing and eating great food. She found local businesses throughout the city willing to sponsor a planter barrel or two, and filled the barrels with vegetable, edible flowers and herbs. Anyone visiting Palmer can harvest the crops as they grow, creating easy access to sample healthy local food.

Five years later, her idea has grown into a thriving operation with sixteen locations around Palmer to harvest delicious vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits. This includes the expanded Edible Rail Trail, the raised beds outside the Palmer Train Depot and the planting at the corner of Evergreen and Colony Way. Jan works tirelessly all summer to nurture each planter and loves to see residents and visitors harvesting the fresh produce for their lunches and dinners.

If you are in Palmer and aren’t sure what to eat for lunch, just swing by any of the planters with the Grow Palmer logo and pick a few things. Remember to take only what you need – please harvest responsibly. Jan encourages everyone to come harvest: 

“The garden beds are flourishing this year, stop by any one of the growing areas and sample Palmer’s amazing local food. And if you’re looking to purchase specific local products, we know all the farmers, so don’t hesitate to get in touch!” 

To contact Grow Palmer, send an email to You can also find them on Facebook at Feel free to send questions or comments and of course, to donate to this fantastic local foods effort.

Happy harvesting!