By Melinda Munson
Skagway Traditional Council (STC) purchased the one-acre garden, Lazy Daisy, in March 2022. Looking around the facility, there’s nothing lazy about it. Flower bouquets and fresh strawberries are for sale, along with hanging baskets. The temporary greenhouse is packed tight with cucumber and tomato plants and multiple potato towers line the property.
Brooke Jasky-Zuber, garden manager, has four employees that will help her coax zucchini, lettuce, onions, peas, cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, squash and swiss chard out of land that just a few months ago was swallowed by weeds and hadn’t been tended for several years.
Jasky-Zuber grew up in Sterling, Alaska where her family lived “off-grid.” She was responsible for washing seaweed for the garden and dumping fish heads into the soil. When she turned 18, she started traveling and working on farms. She completed an internship working with medicinal plants. In Skagway, she worked a few years at Jewell Gardens. In her free time she forages and preserves wild plants.
Jasky-Zuber described her new job as “one of the healthiest work environments I’ve ever been in.”
That fits right in with STC’s mission which is to: “nurture, educate, and protect our tribal members by preserving cultural heritage, natural resources, improving partnerships and economic stability, while upholding tribal sovereignty.”
Jaime Bricker, president of STC, said the council purchased the garden because they were “interested in having a space that promotes food security, physical health, an established supply of Tlingit potatoes, a place to be close to nature, provide jobs, beautify our valley, improve economic opportunity and so much more.”
Bricker said STC will eventually add “student, elder and artist activities in this space.”
For Jasky-Zuber, this initial year with its late start is all about “reclamation” and “experimentation.” She’d like to see a permanent greenhouse next season and hopes to plant more native species.
She’s looking forward to “being able to sit down and have the time to map out what the growing season is going to look like, what we’re going to need, so that we can have a plan for the growing season. Because this year was just sort of like … flying by the seat of my pants … just trying to catch up constantly.”
While Bricker is impressed with the progress of Lazy Daisy, there is one thing she’d like to change.
“We do hope to have a new name picked for the garden before next year and hopefully some sort of opening ceremony once we’ve settled on the new name in traditional Tlingit language,” she said.