Just as happens every September, the market manager wrote that dreaded email to the vendors last week: 40 mile-an-hour winds predicted, so make sure to secure your market tent.
The air is cooler, some leaves are starting to change and fireweed is blowing through the air. Fall is definitely upon us as the days get shorter. My home garden is peaking and a lot of things have simply gone to seed. So the market is wrapping up, right?
Wrong. It’s true that there are only a couple more Saturdays and a couple more Wednesdays when the full crowd will be at the market, including all the food vendors and the market T-shirt sales. But this is the harvest season in Alaska. Produce vendors will be selling through October and their bounty is just hitting its peak.
Last week Robert Heimbach had the most perfect and flawless head of Romanesco that one could imagine. It was 5 pounds. Lori Jenkins had boxes and totes of garlic for seed. Bouquets of peonies were stacked next to all the greens at the Homer Hilltop booth, and Rick Steffen had containers of those tall succulent fava beans amidst all the varieties on his table. Zucchinis, onions, carrots, cabbages — all the things that need all summer to grow are coming in now.
So now is not the time to write off the Farmers Market. Now is the time to think of pickling with all the cucumbers coming in. Now is the time to plan some sauerkraut creations. Now is the time to cook up that vegetable broth for canning so that you can trap a little bit of summer in a jar to enjoy all winter.
It’s true the chill of fall is setting in. But for Alaska farmers that just means that the harvest is at its peak. For those of us who treasure local, fresh flavor and eating with the seasons, this is the high point of our year as well.
Don’t let it slip by. Come on down to the Farmers Market this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m or Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. and enjoy the bounty of the season.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.