Farmers Market: When early farmer turns 90, it’s time to party

They waited until they saw him. They knew he would be coming to the Market, of course. They had already passed a card around for all the vendors to sign, a 90th birthday card for the beloved Dave Schroer.

Dave has been growing in the Homer area since 1975. Raising his kids gardening, they learned everything from the planting to the weeding to the selling. In need of a place to sell, their first “market stand” was in the Homer Electric Association parking lot. That didn’t work so well because at the time most people had their own gardens. They tried again in the early 1980s, selling out of the First National Bank parking lot. That didn’t go so well either, so they ended up just setting up a table at the end of the driveway.

Then in 1998 he heard about a public meeting being held down at City Hall to talk about a farmers market. By this point, Dave’s kids had grown and he was focused on his own garden, fruit trees and the golf course he ran out East End Road. Though he wasn’t interested in vending, he went and shared his encouragement with the new growers.

If you ask him, he will state that he had nothing to do with our present day Homer Farmers Market, but that shows his humble lack of awareness of what a mentor and support he has been for the producers at the Market over the years. As Paul Castellani, one of the actual founding vendors of the Market, would say, Dave is the “spiritual grandfather of the Market.”

Which is why when Dave emerged from the Kettle Corn booth where he had just traded his usual zucchini or cucumber from his garden for a bag, he was greeted by 20-30 people singing happy birthday, passing out cupcakes and handing him a huge bag of kettle corn.

Our Market history has involved a lot of wonderful folks sharing a wholesome and healthy vision for our community. So when you head to the Market Saturdays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. or on Wednesdays from 2-5 p.m., know that you too are helping to create that story.

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