know your farmer, know your food

I just so happened to be in Glennallen last week and stumbled upon their Wednesday Farmers Market. I get all giddy when I see homegrown vegetables, I’m funny that way, so my husband and I had to start up a conversation with the one vendor who had veggies.

He lives at 2,100 feet in elevation and, though they are having a warmer year too, he said they really couldn’t plant any earlier than normal. One day in April it hit 89 degrees, but then it froze that night. Rough. Compare that to Lori Jenkins planting carrots in March and them surviving perfectly in our warm spring to sell at our first Market.

Not only is it great to know your farmer to know how they grow your food (is it organic or conventional?), it’s also just great to know what your farmer lives like. There is a whole USDA initiative called “Know Your Farmer Know Your Food” that simply states on its main webpage, “Every Family Needs a Farmer.” You would want to know a member of the family, right?

But maybe veggies aren’t your thing. No matter, get to know a farmer. Maybe sweets are your thing. Strike up a conversation with Kelli Hickman about how she makes her dandelion honey, or chat with Gigi, the confectioner extreme. You may be surprised to know that there is more than sugar and a new baby in her life, but also high tunnels, egg production and chickens galore.

I saw U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the airport on Saturday. Her arms were loaded with peonies from the Homer Farmers Market. Turns out that peonies are one of her favorite flowers. So after the Market she went on to see the peony farm. Why stop with a simple thank you before you walk away from your family farmer?

She had started at a farmers market in Anchorage that morning where her son sells homemade pasta. See? Even someone selling homemade pasta is guaranteed to have an interesting story.

So head on down to the Market on Ocean Drive from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and from 2-6 p.m. on Wednesdays and get to know your farmer.

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