Panama Reds Indoor Gardening Supply opened in Homer in the last weeks of May, bringing soils, plant fertilizers and other gardening equipment for both indoor and outdoor gardening.
The shop is located next to Cycle Logical in the East Village shopping center, Mile 3.6 East End Road.
The store will hold its grand opening this weekend, said Panama Reds owner Carl Sanche. All items in the store are 10 percent off during the month of June, except for a few items already marked down, Sanche said.
Sanche opened his first store in Kenai about two years ago, utilizing his education in horticulture after years of working in the health food industry as a grocery manager. His interest in indoor gardening sparked while living in Oregon when marijuana became legal.
Homer Panama Reds employee Beth Carroll, a Homer resident with over 20 years of gardening experience, also offers a wealth of information to customers.
“(I’ve) been involved since cannabis has become legal recreationally with the regulatory process we’ve been going through and understanding how the regulatory market is going to work for people,” Carroll said.
The legalization of recreational and commercial cannabis in Alaska has sparked an interest in gardening in people that might not have otherwise picked it as a pastime.
“Although you’ve always been allowed to cultivate personally in the state, now more people are growing what I like to call their victory garden,” Carroll said. “Small cultivation, learning more about the products and they have them at their disposal more than they ever used to be before.”
While Panama Reds does carry products and equipment for cultivating cannabis, it is not the store’s only focus.
About 30 percent of Sanche’s Kenai customers are outdoor gardeners, and many of his indoor gardening customers are growing everything from herbs to tomatoes and lettuce in their high and low tunnels. The renewed focus on locally grown produce has also sparked a trend in his sales.
“There’s a big push toward growing food in Alaska. It’s been here (in Homer) forever, but its just starting up there (in Kenai) and I’ve noticed it with the business trends,” Sanche said. “Food security is important. We bring 95 percent of our food up here. (If) something happens to the shipping, we’re in trouble.”
The store offers many different growing options, from soil to hydroponics and aeroponics, to fit the needs of people growing in any size space. Sanche noted that his soil will be stored indoors in the winter, to prevent the soil from freezing.
Hydroponics and other soil-less growing techniques can be done in a small space indoors with a minimal environmental footprint due to new technology, Carroll said. Though the technology benefits all types of produce production, a lot of the advancements have happened as a result of the legalization of marijuana in various states.
Similarly, some of the plant nutrients tailored toward cannabis cultivation can do wonders for less-controversial fruits and vegetables.
“Champion pumpkin and champion tomato growers use Advanced Nutrients, a popular cannabis nutrient line,” Sanche said. “Big fruit is big fruit — doesn’t matter what the plant is.”