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Thinking of WWOOFing in Alaska this Summer?

One of many high tunnels in Homer, AK

By Jennifer Tarnacki

When you think of Alaska, the first thing that come to mind isn’t usually rolling amber fields of grain or a silo of corn; likely no sheep grazing on glaciers pop into your head. Yet that’d be one of many misconceptions about this place, among them that Alaska is a frozen gulag of darkness, Alaskans are weird, it’s filled with convicts and recluses, and there’s dangerous grizzly bears waiting to attack at the slightest provocation. Why would you go there? People sometimes ask. Why not Cancun? Or California?

A place so loaded with myth, Alaska is enigmatic; it encompasses kernels of truths of all of those misconceptions, yet it’s so much more than that. It has plenty of farmers and greenhouses. And it does have bears. They aren’t roaming predatorily around, preying on the hapless and the weak, but they live here. You’ll find them in backyards from Anchorage to Seldovia, and Alaskans live with them. On one host farm in Eagle Creek, a radio is always kept on to steer away the prominent bear population. Other farms won’t allow a visit unless you have bear spray and know how to use it. Yet other hosts don’t worry in the slightest about bears. Either way, they deal.

That’s what you have to be willing to do to work and live in Alaska: deal. You must be the kind of person who will look at at broken generator and say, “I can fix that”. Alaskans are tough; the environment necessitates it. You need to be able to haul water, carry gas, know of what provisions you require to be safe, and know how to respond to wildlife encounters. If you can fish, hunt, track, shoot, or fly- even better. For those that seek a frontier outlet, Alaska might be the last best place in America.

As large as one fourth of the lower 48, to speak of Alaska as one region is impossible, it encompasses so many different terrains: tundra, wetland, bog, pasture land, rain forest, permafrost, boreal forest. The amount of planes and boats needed just to get to every stretch of the state is a testament to how huge and remote it really is. The one thread in common is that in all its myriad forms, it is a little wild.

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