Alaska is often referred to as “the last frontier,” and that means those who call the state home have to be pretty resourceful to make things work. That’s why we’re so impressed by business owners who not only survive, but excel, in these toughest of areas - including John Rusyniak.
For John and his partner Jill Rusyniak, no place on earth offers as much comfort and promise as Tok, Alaska, where they run shop in their highly-renowned Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge. Off-the-grid and as self-reliant as they come, Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge is a testament to just how much a grower and entrepreneur can accomplish in the face of tough growing conditions - especially with a Rimol greenhouse providing a sheltered space to do it.
Setting Up Shop In The Remote Wilderness
Although it might not seem like your average grower’s first choice for a home-grown garden farm, Alaska has long been home for the Rusyniaks.
Starting back in the 1980s when John and Jill were working and raising their family in the small and secluded villages of Chalkyitsik and Central, AK, the pair eventually moved to the Mentasta Valley in 1988 before settling in up north at the crossroads community of Tok. There, John and Jill launched the lauded and popular Cleft in the Rock Bed and Breakfast, which quickly became highly successful.
But their long-term dreams lie elsewhere: the "Log Cabin Inn," property, a storied 1940’s-style grand lodge situated on the main road from Tok to Anchorage, and notable for having housed famous guests like Hollywood stars John Wayne and Andy Devine. The Log Cabin eventually became a private residence and, when the property became available in 2004, John and Jill were ready to begin another chapter in their adventure as the Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge.
"Jill and I knew this was the right location," John said. "A meandering creek, swooping peaks, wildlife all around us and plenty of history in a place that oozes Alaska. We love it and our guests will, too."
Making It Work, All Off The Grid
John and Jill operate what can truly be called a garden/greenhouse to table facility at Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge. Guests are often amazed at the quality of the home-cooked meals, and even often find themselves involved in the harvest of their own dinner.
"When guests really want to feel at home we allow them to browse in the greenhouse and graze or weed as they like,” said John. “Totally off the grid, we can share with folks how you can live "normal" and live off the land."
Guests at Log Cabin Wilderness Lodge experience Alaska like few other places often with a level of personal attention many guests may not expect. Six guest cabins, 1 RV spot and multiple camping options, in additional to numerous hiking trails, fat tire bikes, canoes, a hot tub, wood fired sauna and zip line, make for one attractive getaway for adventurers and explorers alike - meaning plenty of mouths to feed with only the resources available right on the property. Add in a commitment to living green through solar energy and limited fossil fuel use and John and Jill have created, and met, some serious production challenges.
Utilizing a 30 x 72 Rimol High Tunnel installed in the spring of 2016, John and Jill manage to produce crops as varied as tomatoes, herbs, flowers, lettuce, spinach, cucumbers, zucchini and even corn for consumption by visitors looking to enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal. Even typically-finicky fruits like strawberries come in just fine under the protection of the greenhouse, which shelters crops from the conditions outside while providing enough light to keep things coming even as temperatures drop.
"[Our Rimol Greenhouse] is of the highest quality,” said John. “In the future, we plan to keep improving our system and we are EAGER to learn from others!"
We’re looking forward to seeing how John and Jill utilize their Rimol greenhouse to find continued success in the future, and we can’t wait to see what else they’re cooking up with those greenhouse-grown veggies. Stop by for a visit next time you’re around Tok - there might just be something tasty waiting for you when you get there.