Homer Farmers Market: Pandemic connections as important as food

This is indeed an odd summer. The weather has been amazing, but tourism is down. Around the state, farmers markets report that numbers are down but sales are up. These contradictions are just some of the COVID-19 weirdness.

But at least the nice weather has made it possible to connect with each other outdoors, to share spaces more safely, to let everyone find their comfort level. In the COVID-19 weirdness, what is proper etiquette? What are the best ways to connect with each other again?

These connections are as important as food. Pay attention; it’s magic.

I brought a homegrown salad to a barbecue and it was graced by grilled moose burgers and elk from the family’s farm down in Oregon. This food is thick and juicy with stories and history. Around the fire pit overlooking Kachemak Bay, those stories peppered the conversation, magically evaporating differences and creating connections.

I had a great conversation with a friend as she took ordinary roasted veggies, all cooked separately, and layered them on a platter. First a layer of bright purple sliced beets, then yellow rings of squash, and on and on. All topped with a scattering of cooked beans, salad dressing and fresh green onions. The resulting display took a regular dish of roasted veggie mayhem and magically transformed it into a visual delight.

Another evening, on a porch in the solstice sun, we swapped stories as the appetizers kept time. First a delicious dip of various veggies and a healthy dose of cheese and kale. Then the grill could play its roll, first with veggies sporting blackened edges and then the meats. I know what to expect on this porch. Just when I think I can’t eat another bite, the berry desert will magically appear.

I recently had a salad that my Mom bragged contained the first cucumber from her greenhouse. Her cucumbers are always amazing. I still don’t know how she does it. I consider her magic.

We have a strong connection to our food here in Alaska. In these weird times, how does the magic of food build connections for you?

The Market is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. down on Ocean Drive.

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