Soldotna Shepherds Honored as 2022 Farm Family of the Year
(Left to right) Jane Conway, Martha Merry, and Amy Seitz raise sheep for fiber and meat at Lancashire Farm in Soldotna.
Filling a Need
The family farm raises sheep and lambs for fiber and meat, chickens for meat and eggs, as well as ducks, timothy hay, berries, and vegetables.
“It’s a great feeling to be part of filling a need,” says Seitz. “Alaska needs more in-state production of food and other agriculture products. While there are plenty of challenges to farming in Alaska, we would rather take on the challenges here compared to what other states face.”
Lancashire Farm was established as a homestead in 1948 by Martha Merry’s parents and Amy Seitz’s grandparents, Rusty and Larry Lancashire. Merry now oversees the garden and produce, Conway manages wool products, and Seitz directs the livestock, hay, and general operations.
“Their multigenerational farm family demonstrates exceptional resilience to farming in Alaska,” says Division of Agriculture Interim Director Mia Kirk. “Lancashire Farm’s community involvement and dedication to agriculture industry organizations epitomizes the spirit of the industry. We thank the family for their many contributions to agriculture in Alaska.”
Lancashire Farm has been a vendor at the Soldotna Saturday Farmer’s Market for many years. They also sell direct to individuals, to Odie’s Deli in Soldotna, and to yarn shops around the Peninsula when they have a surplus of wool. Lancashire Farm is also active in the local community and works to promote agriculture in Alaska through the Fireweed Fiber Guild, the Alaska Food Hub (an online farm marketplace), 4-H, the Kenai Local Food Connection, and the Alaska Food Policy Council. Seitz is also the executive director of the Alaska Farm Bureau.
“Lancashire Farm is the perfect example of what sustainable agriculture in Alaska looks like,” says Governor Mike Dunleavy. “I applaud the efforts of Martha Merry, Amy Seitz, and Jane Conway to continue improving and modernizing traditional farming practices and sharing that knowledge with the agriculture community. They are helping Alaskans across the state achieve food security now and in the future.”
The Alaska Division of Agriculture and the Alaska State Fair created the Farm Family of the Year award in 2000 to recognize Alaska farm families that epitomize the spirit of the industry and to show appreciation for hard-working Alaskans committed to agriculture.
The Alaska Division of Agriculture is formally celebrating the award at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on August 25, which is Alaska Agriculture Day.