Longtime home gardener Lori Jenkins used to joke that her garden in northern Georgia was sun challenged. When she and her husband, Wayne, followed their son to Alaska and settled in Homer, sun, at least in the summer, was no longer a concern. Soon after the Jenkins started their family farm, Synergy Gardens, Lori started planting trials for one of her favorite crops: garlic.
Many home gardeners and small operations grow garlic in Alaska and there have been several research projects exploring best practices and garlic varieties that fare well in the state. When Jenkins first started her trials, she didn’t know of any farms growing garlic on a large commercial scale. Her first trials turned out well, so she kept growing and growing, eventually dubbing her efforts “The Alaska Garlic Project.” During the 2020 season she had 14,000 bulbs in the ground. “They’re all hand planted with love,” she says.
Jenkins loves garlic for many reasons. It’s delicious. It’s decorative. It’s diverse. Garlic can be considered a food, a spice, and a medicine. “My goal is just to share garlic with as many Alaskans as possible,” Jenkins says. “To let them know they can grow it themselves or they can support a farmer who does grow it.”
Jenkins sells most of her garlic at the Homer Farmers Market. She also saves garlic seed stock and sells climatized garlic seeds to other Alaskan growers. “My goal is to help people understand they can get it local,” she says.