Each conference, the Alaska Food Policy Council recognized individuals and organizations with the “Alaska Food Hero Award.” Selection is based on work they have been involved with over the past 18 months. Awardees demonstrate a substantial impact on Alaska’s food system, transform an aspect of their community’s food system, and make a difference for Alaska’s prosperity, health and self-reliance.
2019: Lisa & Tim Meyers
Tim and Lisa Meyers have proven rural farming can be successful. Meyers Farm was established in 2002 and is located in Bethel, Alaska. They are dedicated to growing and distributing fresh, locally grown, chemical-free produce to the Bethel region and beyond.
Called the “permafrost farmer”, Tim is an avid promoter of farming in the YK Delta. Meyers Farm serves as an example of the wide range of food that can be produced and sold year round – thanks to his underground root cellar. Tim firmly believes, with a few more farmers, Bethel could feed the state of Alaska. The Meyers are working on that goal by growing the food and the farmers - sharing their expertise and passion with students, interns and other farmers. Tim is also known as an innovator, developing new attachments for his tractor, building high tunnels and underground root cellars on the tundra. The Meyers had the first agricultural export from the region, shipping produce to Anchorage. Currently, they are working with RurAL CAP to ship boxes of fresh produce to village Head Start programs. Tim and Lisa also help educate people how to prepare, cook and store the local produce.
2019: Lia Heifetz
Lia Heifetz was born and raised in Southeast Alaska and wants to see our communities and people prosper. Lia’s passion for local foods has touched communities all across the region. She works through-out the region with her consulting company, Grow Southeast, to increase local food production, processing, distribution and consumption to build resilient local food systems and to empower Southeast Alaskans.
Previously, as the Food Security Coordinator for Southeast Conference and Director of the Local Foods Program at the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition, and, currently, as the owner of Grow Southeast and partner in Barnacle Foods, Lia has increasingly become the face of the food security movement in the region. Her work with the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition started the Salt & Soil Marketplace, a food hub helping increase food production throughout Southeast Alaska by connecting local food producers and consumers.
2019: Heidi Chay
Heidi Chay, District Manager of the Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, is an amazing farm and food advocate, community organizer, and a visionary for the central Kenai Peninsula. Her work includes a variety of outreach to farmers, connecting food producers to buyers and restaurants, and education and information sharing. Her significant contributions to food projects have created an environment for local food to thrive.
Heidi regularly supplies support to the farmers of the area through equipment rentals, technical support (ex. hosting Women in Ag conference, speakers on farm finances, farm tours, techniques, financial aid, planning), marketing ("Kenai Loves Local Food" directory for farms and markets), and networking (Farm and Food Fridays). She has been hugely elemental in the expansion and success of the Alaska Food Hub in Kenai as well as the success of the Farmers Fresh Tuesday Market at the Kenai Food Bank and the annual Harvest Moon Food Festival.
2018: Robbi Mixon
Robbi has managed the Homer Farmers Market for years, fostering amazing growth due to her knack for recognizing needs and addressing them, including the adoption of the market coin program and SNAP benefits program and other initiatives at the Market She is the director for the Alaska Food Hub and the Alaska Farmers Market Association, headquartered at Cook Inletkeeper.
2016: Kyra Wagner
If you are visiting Homer and interested in local food systems, chances are you will connect with Kyra Wagner. Wagner writes an article weekly on the Homer Farmers Market during the season, organizes high tunnel tours and gatherings of farmers, and writes a weekly Sustainable Homer newsletter that lists activities that build local resilience. “Kyra is a role model for food advocates around Alaska and has made a huge impact on the local food system in Homer,” according to Moe. “Her work perfectly exemplifies the Alaska Food Policy Council’s mission of improving our food system in a prosperous, healthy, and self-reliant way.”
2016: Tyonek Tribal Conservation District
The TTCD’s Tyonek Grown Program operates a 1.5 acre farm using organic methods, with two high tunnels and solar powered irrigation and ventilation systems in the Native Village of Tyonek. Youth in the Tyonek community learn about all aspects of farming and learn to enjoy healthy, locally grown foods. Much of the produce they grow is distributed to Tyonek elders. AFPC Governing Board member Danny Consenstein praises TTCD’s focus on conservation and community. “Tyonek provides a model for what other villages and conservation districts could do.”
2016 Oustanding Service Award: Diane Peck
Peck is a Dietician with the Obesity Prevention Program at the Division of Public Health and helped found the AFPC through that program. AFPC Coordinator Samantha Ford said that “Diane’s ability to bring people together has been instrumental in growing the AFPC. We are so proud to honor her with this award.”