Grappling with Mother Nature

It has been a strange spring, very cool and wet. So how does this affect our farmers? Asking around the Homer Farmers Market last Saturday, I got a good idea of what it’s like to be farming in Alaska.

Robert Heimbach was quick to point out that farming is a personal story of each farmer’s relationship with the weather. Some plant early in hopes of a successful early crop knowing they are risking loosing it. So many things depend on the decisions of the farmer. That said, he figures he will be about a month behind normal on things that prefer the heat like cucumbers.

Carey at Homer Hilltop Farm estimates that outside crops are about three weeks behind on top of Diamond Ridge. If things are in a high tunnel they are two weeks behind on the Ridge, but only one week behind down on the bench. (She was happily eating her first carrot). Her daughter Thea pointed out that the weeds are doing just fine. Megan from Wild Wellness Farm summed up this season as simply slow.

Dan and Luba said that though everyone may be getting their plants outside late because of the cold, they were struggling to find a day dry enough to use their tractor or planter on the field. They have just recently gotten their famous colorful potatoes into the ground. On the bright side, Robert also reported that this wet spring made it really nice getting good germination. Compared to last year, which was a drought, this rain is making it so that farmers who don’t have fancy irrigation systems don’t have to water their fields.

Anna said that birch sap production was slower, but lasted longer, so it turned out fine. The folks at Riverview Honey aren’t as optimistic. There would need to be a big shift in this cool weather to get the bees moving.

This is all a good reminder that our food system ultimately is 100% dependent on Mother Nature. Kudos to our local farmers for attempting to make a living such an unknown world.

So come down this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and support your local farmers’ endeavors.