The Roaming Root Cellar Wins Golden Carrot Award
A small business in Fairbanks that grew from a bus to a storefront in a year has won the 2021 Golden Carrot award from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources in recognition of its Alaska Grown display creativity, support of Alaska Grown small businesses, and success during the fifth annual “Alaska Grown $5 Challenge” campaign.
Rooting for Hometown Produce
The Roaming Root Cellar, a specialty food store, is the first Alaska small business, and the first store located in the Northern region of the state, to win the award, developed by the state Division of Agriculture to increase the amount and visibility of Alaska Grown products in retail food stores.
Previous Golden Carrot winners are the Palmer Fred Meyer store (2020 and 2019), the Wasilla Walmart store (2018), and the Palmer Carrs-Safeway store (2017).
“We are excited to see a small business in the Interior of Alaska, such as The Roaming Root Cellar, win the $5 Challenge,” says David W. Schade, director of the Division of Agriculture. “This company exemplifies the Alaska spirit, supporting our producers and serving consumers in the heart of Alaska.”
Erica Moeller, owner of The Roaming Root Cellar, opened for business on February 29, 2020, operating from a 23-foot, 1976 Bluebird bus, with a mission to connect local customers with local products. The COVID-19 pandemic forced her to close down the bus and produce and deliver products from her home for delivery customers until May 2020, when she reopened to in-person business.
Not only was Moeller able to continue supporting Alaska Grown producers while surviving the pandemic, she also expanded into a storefront business site, which doubled in size on the one-year anniversary of the store opening.
Everything the Roaming Root Cellar sells is made or grown in Alaska, and its website includes a “Meet Our Farmers and Artisans” feature offering more information about the Alaska Grown producers that supply its products.
“Our mission is to connect the community with local goodness, borne from a need for improved food security in Alaska,” Moeller says. “There are a number of industrious and talented Alaskan farmers, entrepreneurs, and artists who can thrive with increased access to their customer base. By selling only Alaska Grown produce, we provide a year-round platform for our producers and consumers to connect, making everyone more food secure in the process.”
…Because She Sells Roots, and She Roams
Erica Moeller sells roots and other non-root foods at her above-ground shop on Old Chena Pump Road.
“When you combine high-quality produce with innovative and resilient business practices, you get a standout Interior business like the Erica Moeller’s Roaming Root Cellar,” says Governor Mike Dunleavy. “I am proud to see this Golden Heart City businesswoman get the recognition she deserves for helping expand Alaska’s agriculture business and build our state’s food security.”
The Alaska Grown $5 Challenge encourages Alaskans to spend $5 each week on Alaska Grown products, including vegetables, dairy, meat, grains, and value-added products. The competition is held from June to November during the peak of the Alaska growing season, when a larger variety of products is available.
Schade will present the Golden Carrot award to The Roaming Root Cellar during an award ceremony at the store on Thursday, December 9. The public is welcome to attend the noon ceremony in person, and the ceremony will also be broadcast on the Alaska Grown Facebook page.
This year the Alaska Railroad is celebrating 100 years of transportation people and cargo around Alaska. While the railroad is one of the states oldest transporters, it certainly isn’t the only one, and in this issue of Alaska Business we also check in on the Marine Highway, Span Alaska, and the White Pass & Yukon Route. For those interested in Southeast, our focus on that region provides updates on Kensington Mine, Tongass FCU, the troll fishery, and Juneau’s growing landfill.