Since Bobbi Jackson began Jackson Gardens and Nursery 40 years ago, the 10-acre homestead has become a cornucopia of locally grown flowers and produce.
Jackson said every year she has sought out new things to grow and share with the community. Today she’s growing everything she can, including cherries, pears, plums, peaches, kiwi, apricots, nectarines, apples and other fruit not commonly grown this far north.
“It gets bigger and bigger every year,” she said. “My husband said he was not going to plant more strawberries but then a little boy came and he cried because we were out of strawberries. So he put 7,000 more strawberries in.”
Peppers, corn, garlic, green beans, kohlrabi, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, carrots, edible flowers and many other vegetables, herbs and berries can be found in the gardens.
Her business first began with flowers. What started as a small bed of perennials in 1979, has grown into a large production of lilies, roses, shrubs, peonies and fruit trees.
Jackson has always grown food for her family, but four years ago she decided to share the wealth and open up her property to the community through a U-pick.
Jackson keeps interested pickers updated on what’s available mostly through Facebook, where she posts detailed lists of what’s around the gardens.
In addition to offering the community a place to pick their own locally grown produce, Jackson also hires locals to help maintain the gardens. Customers get more than just produce when they visit Jackson Gardens. Jackson also shares kitchen tips and tricks to keep food good all year round — from making garlic last all year to fermenting root vegetables to last all winter.
“I can’t stand for anything to go bad,” she said.
While raising five children on a budget, Jackson has learned ways to make her fresh food last longer.
“We’re teaching the kids the wrong thing in school,” she said. “We’re teaching them they have to have everything raw, organic and fresh. Nobody can afford that. I eat fresh all summer. I eat frozen and fermented in the winter — I cook differently.”
Jackson Gardens will be open until Oct. 1. The gardens will offer families free potatoes from Sept. 21-30. Weather permitting, the gardens will also host fall hay rides on Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sept. 28.
Contact Jackson Gardens and Nursery at 907-252-9459, and find them at 48195 Johns Road, Soldotna. Visit their website at jacksongardensak.com.