PALMER — Vern Stockwell and Becky Gardner, of the Stockwell Farm in Palmer, have been selected by the Alaska agricultural community as the 2013 Farm Family of the Year.
Vern and Becky will be honored at the Alaska State Fair on Thursday, Aug. 22.
Stockwell Farm sells its produce at multiple different farmers markets in Anchorage and is notable for its eight different varieties of carrots, 18 different varieties of potatoes, sweet onions, colored cauliflower, cabbage, tomatoes, strawberries and more. Becky Gardner’s dandelion jelly, ginger-rhubarb jam and other prepared food products are famous amongst her friends.
Stockwell and Gardner partner with Colony Next Step — part of a school district program in the Mat-Su that serves young adult students with disabilities — to provide vocational training on their farm. Students participate in a variety of tasks and particularly enjoy washing and bundling carrots for market.
Stockwell grew up on a 600-acre farm in South Dakota and has been a member of the Mat-Su Chapter of the Farm Bureau for many years, most recently serving as treasurer of the organization. In 2001, Stockwell and Gardner and their three sons moved from their home in Anchorage — where they used their entire yard for personal vegetable production — to a seven-acre farm in Palmer.
After reviewing nominations, an awards committee chaired by the Alaska Division of Agriculture selects the winning family based on production of quality Alaska Grown products, community and agricultural organization involvement, and overall image.
“I am pleased to recognize the Stockwell Farm as the 2013 Farm Family of the Year. They were nominated by the agriculture community for not only their passion for agriculture but also their commitment to sharing that passion with young adults with disabilities. This farm family not only feeds Alaskans it also nurtures self esteem and personal growth,” said Agriculture Division Director Franci Havemeister.