US (AK): Gardens of Delta to bring aquaponic produce to local community

Delta resident Vanessa Heath has a vision of a place people in need can come and receive fresh vegetables, do a little work, and find fellowship. She also wants to aid existing agencies in town that support people with food – 5 Loaves Pantry and Caring Hearts. It’s a big dream.

Heath wants to buy land and put up a 28 x 58 steel building, which she has already purchased, and start an aquaponics system to grow vegetables year-round. “Most of my efforts right now are getting the building up,” she explained. The biggest roadblock she and her small board of directors have encountered is waiting on the IRS to grant their 501(c)(3) designation for her organization, Gardens of Delta.

“As my luck would have it, the IRS is backed up for two months,” Heath said with an ironic laugh. “There’s not an issue with the application; they simply don’t have the manpower to process it.” “It’s super expensive to get aquaponics started, but in the long run, it’s very sustainable. Once you get it going, you don’t have a lot of operational costs,” she explained.

Her plan is this: buy some land in town that is easy to reach for people who’d be receiving the free food, put up the steel building, and install the aquaponics system. Those are the big steps; there are dozens of smaller steps to make those big ones happen.


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