“The Farm” owner Duras Ruggles poses next to trays of microgreens in the back of a moving truck she’s outfitting with growing equipment. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

“The Farm” owner Duras Ruggles poses next to trays of microgreens in the back of a moving truck she’s outfitting with growing equipment. (Nolin Ainsworth | Juneau Empire)

Juneau woman takes over indoor farming business

The Farm to sell microgreens, herbs

Duras Ruggles purchased a vehicle last month with few intentions of ever driving the thing.

Ruggles, 25, is the new owner of The Farm, an indoor farming business started last year by Bridget and Jake LaPenter out of their house and garden in the Flats neighborhood.

Ruggles farmed for about five years before moving to Juneau last summer and heard about the business opportunity through an acquaintance at the Salt & Soil Marketplace. In addition to the truck, the purchase of The Farm also came with an abundance of soil, seeds, trays, racks and growing lights. The LaPenters had plans to move part of their operation into the truck but didn’t get around to it before the sale.

“I feel really passionate about growing food,” Ruggles said in an interview with the Empire outside her farm near Tee Harbor. “I think it’s the most empowering thing we can do as people, especially in a politically-dangerous space, to have our independence and our freedom.”

Ruggles declined to say exactly how much the business cost, but called it a “significant investment.” She said an angel investor played a big part in the transaction. An angel investor is someone who invests in a start-up in exchange for debt or ownership stakes in the business.

“It’s definitely pertinent information that there was this nice lady who believes in local food and was able to lend me her money so that I could buy this business,” Ruggles said.

Currently there’s over a dozen trays of cilantro, radishes, peas and other microgreens growing. Ruggles said she hopes to cultivate herbs that other local farms, like Juneau Greens, don’t sell.

“My goal is to fill in the gaps and grow whatever people need,” Ruggles said. “I really love growing mushrooms, so that’s also going to happen.”

The Farm currently supplies microgreens for the Salt & Soil Marketplace. Ruggles hopes to sell her food to other places in the future — particularly schools and hospitals — as she starts growing a wider diversity of plants.

“I would really love it if I could sell food to mostly schools as well as hospitals and elderly homes and other facilities where healthy food is really necessary,” she said.

The LaPenters started the business last year in an effort to address Juneau’s food insecurity. They grew microgreens like lettuce year-round inside their house while also cultivating greens and crops outside in the spring, summer and fall. They stopped their indoor growing operation in March, Bridget said, to prepare for the birth of their second child the next month.

“We quickly realized it was just getting way too chaotic for us, so we knew some time off would be a responsible choice on our part to keep the stress levels low,” Bridget said.

Bridget said she’s excited to see where Ruggles takes The Farm.

“We’re really hoping she succeeds,” Bridget said.

Connecting with The Farm

Email: the.farm.ak@gmail.com

Website: thefarmak.com

Purchase: www.saltandsoilmarketplace.com

• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or nainsworth@juneauempire.com. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

A photo taken from the terminal roof shows the extent of the first phase of paving to accommodate large aircraft. (Mike Greene / City and Borough of Juneau)
Large-scale repaving project plants itself at Juneau International Airport

Work may take two to three years, schedule seeks to limit impact on operations.

Capital Transit buses wait to depart from the downtown transit center on Thursday. Route number 8 was adjusted this spring. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
More service, visitor information helping Capital Transit to keep up with extra cruise passenger traffic

Remedies made after residents unable to board full buses last year seem to be working, officials say

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 23, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 22, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Campaign buttons urging Alaskans to repeal ranked choice voting in Alaska sit on a picnic table at the home of Phil Izon, a backer of the initiative, in Wasilla, Alaska, on Tuesday, May 14. Arguments are scheduled May 28 in a lawsuit challenging the state Division of Election’s decision to certify the initiative for placement on the ballot this year. (Mark Thiessen / AP)
Ranked-choice voting has challenged the status quo. Its popularity will be tested in November

Arguments scheduled Tuesday in Alaska lawsuit involving ballot initiative repealing RCV.

A sperm whale is seen in an undated photo published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (NOAA photo)
Alaska fisherman pleads guilty to federal charges after ordering crew to shoot whale

A Southeast Alaska troll fisherman has agreed to plead guilty to a… Continue reading

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

Most Read