Alaska Fresh announced it is one of just 15 local seafood businesses in the United States accepted into the inaugural cohort of Scale Your Local Catch (SYLC), a no-cost five-month virtual business accelerator program designed to train seafood producers on marketing their catch directly to consumers, scaling their business, and building greater resiliency within local and regional food systems.
Based in Menomonee Falls, Alaska Fresh is an online business owned by husband-and-wife duo Juraj Kusnir and Adra Kusnirova. Originally from Slovakia and Brookfield, WI, respectively, they both lived in Alaska for many years while Juraj managed a seafood processing plant in a remote fishing village. After relocating back to Wisconsin full time, they saw the need for access to healthy and affordable wild Alaskan fish in the “Lower 48.” They sell wild salmon and halibut from small-boat fishermen via nationwide shipping, at Southeast Wisconsin farmers markets, and local pickup.
“Like most small businesses, we started as a side hustle and still have a lot to learn as we grow, which is why we are so excited to participate in SYLC. Our customer base has grown during the pandemic with everyone cooking at home more, and we are fulfilling our goal of making wild protein more available in the Midwest, especially in rural and urban food desserts where folks do not have access to healthy food. We hope to strengthen the regional food system by offering our product, while at the same time supporting the special traditions of an Alaskan fishing village that have been around for millennia.” Says Adra Kusnirova, owner of Alaska Fresh.
SYLC is produced by Local Catch Network, based at the University of Maine, and is offered at no cost through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s AMS Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP). SYLC was developed in partnership with Ecotrust and alongside Orca Design Group, Oasis Consulting, Farm Commons, and Winona Dorris of CFO Consulting Services, with the goal of strengthening local and regional seafood systems by addressing challenges associated with direct marketing and by building the knowledge, skills, and networks needed for direct marketing seafood businesses to scale up their operations and increase their capacity and viability for long-term resilience. The program begins in early December and runs through April 2022.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to engage with and facilitate connections between innovative small-scale and community-based seafood producers to strengthen local and regional seafood systems,” said Jordan Richardson, Coordinator of the Local Catch Network.
Alaska Fresh will participate in a variety of trainings on topics such as business structure, taxation, accounting, credit/finance, and market development, among others. Additionally, Alaska Fresh will receive customized business support from service providers and consultants who understand the unique needs of fishers and seafood harvesters who want to build financial viability, strengthen their business structure, and grow with integrity.
Owners, Adra and Juro, on the dock in Cordova, Alaska.
About the Local Catch Network The Local Catch Network, based at the University of Maine, is an inclusive, values-based network of 500+ seafood harvesters, researchers, and community organizations from across North America. LCN members support and promote safe, direct, transparent and profitable “boat-to-fork” systems of local and regional seafood distribution, such as Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs) and similar models. LCN is governed by a volunteer Executive Committee responsible for supporting the growth and development of the network, with backbone support from the North American Marine Alliance. FMI: https://localcatch.org/.