The Homestead Garden

What began as a way to provide food for an Alaskan, homesteading family has grown into a generational family business. Charles & Elaine Hawks drove the perilous journey up the ALCAN Highway to begin a new life in what was then, the Territory of Alaska. Here, they raised seven children, various dogs, and for a short time, had a hand in raising livestock. Life was challenging. With hard work, they carved a life out for themselves.

Vegetable gardening was out of necessity. They truly lived off the land. In those days, driving from North Pole to Fairbanks for pantry-staples (flour, sugar, coffee), was a luxury only afforded a few times a year.

Extra veggies soon translated into a farmer’s market on South Cushman run by their oldest children, Mike and Carol, and eventually, with other growers in the area, the beginning of the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market.

A Greenhouse Business Begins

A homemade greenhouse, with a conduit frame covered in plastic, sheltered the fragile plants from the elements of the unpredictable Alaskan Spring. Friends and neighbors were their first greenhouse customers, but when there was a need they always shared what they had. All 7 children had a hand in working the land. They can tell you stories of all the weeding they had to do, and the back-breaking work that came with making a self-sufficient family survive.

In 1988, the family moved Hawks Greenhouse to its current location. It has evolved over the years, even having a pet & feed store, offering chicks, ducks, pheasants and geese, but the greenhouse was always a passion, especially for Elaine.

She had a knack for growing and researching any new concepts she needed to excel in the greenhouse. It was that passion and skill that really shined in the plants she and her daughter Lori grew.

Carrying On Tradition

Many things have happened over the years:

1. Improvements: Five of the greenhouse structures have been completely changed out.

2. Mechanization: a transplanting robot and automatic flat filler were added, much to the thrill of young, school-age children on our greenhouse tours.

3. Innovation: We were the first local greenhouse to plant moss baskets, to offer custom basket planting, and to teach workshops for adults and children.

4. Creativity: Moss ladies and even a moss dinosaur grace the front lawn.

5. Generosity: We are happy to share with the Fairbanks Community Food Bank by donating plants for their clients to produce their own food, as well as donate thousands of pounds of freshly picked garden produce.

Today, you’ll find their son Troy and daughter-in-law Angie working hard to carry on the tradition begun so many years before.