Lower peninsula has bumper crop of cukes

I have written about the Homer Farmers Market for years and I usually throw out a reminder to stock up on veggies for your canning and preserving purposes in August. Well, it’s June and I have to say, if you want to make some pickles, you should stock up now at Bob Durr’s booth.

I never thought it would be necessary to promote massive cucumber consumption in June in Alaska. But that was before high tunnels. The Natural Resources Conservation Service high tunnel cost-share program only started in 2010, but more than 475 high tunnels have popped up on the Kenai Peninsula since, and that is not counting all the folks who put up their own without the NRCS program.

It is pretty amazing what a community can do when it grows its own food. Not everyone with a hoop house grows for the Market, but I have seen the dedication to growing become an art regardless. Such a simple structure can end up not only extending your season, but raising your climate zone until you find yourself eating cucumbers and tomatoes in June.

What I love the most about growing my own food is the appreciation that I get for the farmers at the Market. When my starts fail, I know I can depend on them for back up. When I am fighting slugs, I know I can get clean pak choi from one of the farms out of town. When I have guests coming but my greens aren’t up yet, I know I can get some from the farmers. And I just forget about celery and fennel. I never had any luck with them and I will be able to get them at the Market.

A thriving local food economy has a little bit of it all: people growing their own food, farmers growing in quantity and quality. We’re doing good down here on this end of the peninsula.

So come on down Wednesdays 2 to 5 p.m. or Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and see what our local farmers are doing to push the season and support our local food economy.

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