Homer is simply not the easiest place to farm. There’s all the lush hay to be cut, but how do you gamble if there will be enough rain-free days after it’s cut to ensure that it’s dry enough to bale? And when a farmer gets warm enough soil after a cold spring so that plants finally start growing, can they sell it all?
But if you can imagine how hard it is to farm, think about how hard it is to get fresh food. From the perspective of the customer who is looking at store shelves with veggies that are usually a couple of weeks old, it is easy to think about how that food system can be interrupted by shifts in society that happen thousands of miles away.
Despite these challenges, farmers are selling out by the end of the market, and customers around town are connecting to local food venues better than ever before. Last year was a wake-up call for many, and now many of our local farms have more direct customer subscriptions than ever before. That means that each customer gets a box of veggies straight from the farm — some through the farm’s website and others with just a handshake deal.
Regardless, having a contract for regular food is great for both the farmer and the customer. It gives the farmer money up front to invest in the farm and a certainty that they will have a place for those veggies to go. It also gives the customer the peace of mind not only that they are guaranteed local fresh food, but that they are supporting the infrastructure to guarantee that farming continues in our own community.
If you want to know who we have growing in Homer, check out the Alaska Food Hub website. You will see familiar names from the Homer Farmers Market as well as others. You can see the list of what’s being produced locally as well as each producer’s story and philosophies. That way you know exactly which booth to run to for what you want when you get to the Market on Wednesdays from 2-5 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Ocean Drive.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.