Farmers’ Market survey will attempt to assess damage caused by harsh winter

You could say this has been an odd year for weather. You probably won’t hear much complaining right now, however, since everyone is so glad to see this much sun after two terribly dreary summers in a row.  

At last week’s Homer Farmers’ Market I talked to some producers who take note of the weather. Those who are depending on rain catchment to water their high tunnels are either starting to get nervous or already are buying water.

But I met many more people ready to absorb some vitamin D and warmth after the cold of this winter. If you read Rosemary Fitzpatrick’s garden column you know that even the best gardeners lost treasured perennials to the cold. (See Kachemak Gardener: 

Theories abound as to what the cause for all the winter damage was.  Paul Castellani said he had seldom gone into winter with his fields as saturated as they were last fall and, with the hard frost without snow cover, his soils froze like never before.

Some of us who had a sheet of ice on the lawn most of the winter can see the dead patches that result from ice suffocation. One local grower studied the buds on his dead apple tree and determined that they froze too early.  Another grower saw her strawberries coming to life this spring only to be killed by a late frost.

A local survey is being done to try to assess the damage of all these factors. What plants did you lose? Ahna Iredale told me multiple sad stories of old, revered perennials that she had lost. What is your story?  Go online to to describe your situation.

Despite the rough winter, there still is great food being grown. Ahna’s Land Race greens proved to be productive and hardy as ever. This week I had the pleasure of visiting a grower and enjoying a dinner with fresh roasted beets and carrots from the high tunnel and one of the best fresh Caesar salads ever.

So, head on down to the Homer Farmers’ Market this Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for the fresh rewards from our local farmers and celebrate the solstice warmth.

Kyra Wagner is the executive director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers’ Market’s biggest fan.