Farm grows with family

by Nancy Tarnai
March 14, 2011

Photo by Nancy Tarnai.Allison Wylde and Theo DeLaca and their children Elias, Nils and Cora are pictured at the family property in Two Rivers.

Even before they owned land Theo DeLaca and Allison Wylde couldn’t wait to try growing food, so they improvised. In the back of a “dead” pickup truck, the couple grew potatoes.

Photo courtesy Feedback Farm.
This beautiful salad was prepared by DeLaca and Wylde for a friend's wedding party.

DeLaca was a little heavy handed with the fertilizer but it was definitely a learning experience. “It’s been a slow evolution,” DeLaca said. “We love food and growing our own stuff.” The farm has evolved based on growing what the family needs. They started with chickens, then expanded to vegetables, goats, turkeys, ducks, rabbits and pigs. “Everything goes together,” DeLaca said.

Today they own Feedback Farm in Two Rivers and provide most of the food for their family and for the dozen members of their community supported agriculture business.

DeLaca grew up in California and the East Coast and started coming to Alaska as a teen to spend summers with his father. He earned a bachelor’s degree in natural resources management at UAF and is working on his master’s now. Wylde hails from Virginia and was lured to Fairbanks by a friend. She earned a biology degree with a pre-veterinary focus at UAF. Both say their education helps them with the farm.

The land is a big part of the family’s lifestyle. Elias, 10, and Cora, 7, help with the garden and animals. Baby Nils will assist as soon as he is old enough. “We have no TV and we grow our own food,” DeLaca said. “We live meagerly so we can be with our family,” Wylde said.<br>

They also assist Two Rivers School with its community garden and Learning Landscape, which is a U.S. Fish and Wildlife program to foster a school yard habitat with trails and wildflowers.<br>

Photo courtesy Feedback Farm. Allison Wylde and Theo DeLaca prepare crops for distribution to their CSA members.

Wylde taught Agriculture in the Classroom at the school last year and helps with the science fair. “Education is my passion,” she said.

DeLaca has a reforestation business and works for the university off and on. He cleared areas of the 20 acres they own and built their house, barns and greenhouses. He used the wood to make dog sleds , chicken pens and birch bows for the children.

“We have big plans for this place,” DeLaca said. He has started the foundation for another house and wants to build another greenhouse and sauna.

Photo courtesy Feedback Farm.Theo DeLaca harvests cabbages at Feedback Farm.

Only one acre is in production but more will be. “Time and money have kept us from expanding,” DeLaca said. “Being a farmer and a graduate student doesn’t provide much income.”

Nancy Tarnai – Public Information Officer – UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences/Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station P.O. Box 757200