The countdown has begun. There are four more Saturday Homer Farmers Markets. You can tell as everyone seems to be mentioning that feel of fall in the air and there are all the empty spaces out on the Spit.
Interestingly, while the decline of the tourist season is marked on the calendar by Labor Day, the production in the fields is much more enduring. This is still the time of plenty, especially with all the sun and warm weather we have had in the recent weeks. It helps those Brussel sprouts come to full size, the potatoes to plump up, more tomatoes to ripen, the cabbages to get thicker and the carrots to grow longer.
I applaud those who get out on the SVT Thriving Thursday farm tours over the summer. Having a chance to see these production centers is so valuable for understanding what goes on behind the Saturday booth. If you buy a bag of those tasty peas from Synergy Gardens, for example, you may just be thinking about a seasonal treat or a specific meal. But the whole system that put those peas in that bag is much more complex.
Imagine acres of raised beds, of high tunnels, of irrigation ponds. Imagine a farm plan that focuses on garlic as a core product for restaurants and shoppers. Now imagine years of fortifying the local soils with fish bone meal, lime and other nutrients to get the best level of soil health for growing these delectable roots.
Now imagine a rotation so that the soil doesn’t get specific nutrients exhausted by the same crop over and over. Peas put the nitrogen back into the soil that the garlic will require, so they become integral in this rotation system. So lots of garlic means that there will also be lots of peas (last Saturday Lori brought two full totes of peas).
So break out the sauerkraut crocks and freezer bags. This is the time of the year that farmers work for, when all their farm planning is at a peak. Head on down to the Homer Farmers Market Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or on Wednesdays from 2-5 p.m. and stock up.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.