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The Weitchpec Nursery is now open for business

Tribally owned nursery is selling a broad variety of edible plant starts

The Yurok Agricultural Corporation’s Weitchpec Nursery is now selling a diverse selection of high-quality, holistically grown vegetable starts as well as fruit and vegetable plants.

“I am so excited about this new tribally owned business and what it means for our community. We have everything you need to fill up your garden space with healthy food plants,” said Toby Vanlandingham, the President of the Yurok Agricultural Corporation. “I am equally excited to begin phase one of our plans to improve food sovereignty and spur economic growth on the Yurok Reservation and surrounding area.”

Located at 3595 Tulley Creek Road, the Weitchpec Nursery is selling more than 20 different vegetable varieties, including squash, cucumbers and many other staples. In addition to the storefront, the environmentally sustainable Nursery’s broad array of edible plants can also be purchased at local events and markets. The Nursery will be open this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm.

The long-term tribal economic development initiative aims to create jobs and improve access to healthy foods in the region.

“The goal of the Weitchpec Nursery is to offer healthy vegetable starts, native plants, and fruits and vegetables to the local community, while creating economic growth in the region. The Weitchpec Nursery was once an economic driver for the community as well as a main source of plant starts for all of Humboldt County. Our aim is to alleviate the ‘food desert’ label that the USDA placed upon the Yurok Reservation years ago,” said Weitchpec Nursery Manager Mike Searcy.

In 2021, the agricultural corporation purchased the property, which was vacant for several years. In less than four months, Searcy and his team transformed the property into a fully operational nursery. To create infrastructure for to cultivate the starts, the team constructed planting tables using redwood from the Yurok-owned Lindgren Lumber. There are multiple raised beds for herbs as well as 6000 square feet of garden space. All of the plants are irrigated via drip irrigation, in order to conserve as much water as possible. Future plans include building a transplant room with automatic irrigation.

The nursery is currently equipped with a Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT, a rail system and drip irrigation. The plants are grown in rails with a small amount of nutrient-rich water flowing over the roots. These systems help conserve the water held in massive 20,000-gallon watering tanks.

At the top of the property, the main greenhouse is furnished with state-of-the-art technology to keep the building at optimal temperature for cultivation. The low-energy climate control infrastructure includes a wet wall and strategically placed exhaust fans, as well as blowers that push air in between two sheets of plastic to create insulation.

The nursery is working toward becoming organically certified. One of the goals for the nursery is to supply surrounding area restaurants and groceries with best-quality fruits and vegetables. Later this year, Searcy is hoping to expand by constructing metal buildings for storage and a storefront.

In the future, the Weitchpec Nursery will serve as a one-stop-shop for all the community’s irrigation and gardening supplies. During the phase two of the project, the tribal company will begin producing native plants to generate a second revenue stream. The nursery team has plans to install three additional greenhouses to grow wide variety of endemic trees, herbs and shrubs for environmental remediation projects. For example, the nursery hopes to supply native flora to the crews that will be restoring the footprints of four reservoirs on the Klamath River post dam removal. The perennial plants can also be used in mill site revegetation projects.

Yurok Agricultural Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Yurok Tribe.

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