2020 Indigenous Communities Fellowship
Food from Fire
Reduce fire hazards and grow food year-round with biomass heated greenhouses—promoting Indigenous led community sustainability, increased food security, and climate change adaptation.
The most critical issue for food security in Alaska is supply - about 95 percent of food is imported. Rural Indigenous food systems are becoming increasingly dependent on store-bought foods due to lack of locally grown options and significant impacts to subsistence harvests from climate change, high equipment prices, and loss of traditional knowledge. Meanwhile, the availability of fresh produce in rural Alaska is nearly nonexistent and supply disruptions from COVID19 resulted in even lower inventories and empty shelves, painfully demonstrating the instability of current food systems in rural Alaska.
Food from Fire is developing a prototype biomass heated greenhouse with a business model unique to Alaskan villages. Biomass heated greenhouses can reduce fire hazards and increase food security by growing food year-round.
One of the main project components of Food from Fire is partnership with tribal communities and Alaska Native corporations to promote tribal and shareholder development for building, operating and maintaining these greenhouses. Cultural and shareholder development programs as well as a sample school curriculum for students to engage in greenhouse operations will be included. Multiple part-time positions will also be created for tribal members, including summer positions for youth.
This solution has the potential to impact the 50,000 Alaska Natives living in rural Indigenous communities, resulting in $375 million in savings on fresh produce alone - dollars that can be directed towards other community needs.
This solution has the potential to impact the 50,000 Alaska Natives living in rural Indigenous communities, resulting in $375M in savings on fresh produce - dollars that can be kept in villages and directed towards other community needs. The current market demand for fresh produce in urban Alaska centers is also unmet. This solution can be expanded to include storage facilities and supply fresh produce to urban centers, reaching an additional 50,000 urban Alaska Natives and possibly serving all 700,000 residents of Alaska, which is a $2.4B industry for fresh produce alone.
Founder Eva Burk received selected as a Fellow of the Intertribal Agriculture Council Inter-institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability
Founder Eva Burk named a Sloan Foundation Public Understanding of Science & Technology Scholar
Food from Fire currently seeks:
To partner with organizations with a proven track record of supporting the growth of sustainable food systems in rural areas, particularly those with experience supporting successful private-public partnerships.
To partner with individuals who have experience working with biomass fueled greenhouses to help evaluate our anticipated energy and crop yields.
The support of seasoned experts who can help evaluate our business model.
Fairbanks, United States
Eva Burk Graduate Research Assistant, Food from Fire