Five members of the Mongolian Parliament and an interpreter participated in an Economic Development Roundtable at the Homer Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Saturday, March 25. The Mongolian Delegation was sponsored by the Kachemak Bay Rotary Club and managed by the Open World Leadership Center. Roundtable Panel presentations were made by Chamber business members. Topics included attracting visitors to Homer and the burgeoning high tunnel agriculture businesses which produce more vegetables on a year-round basis as well as peony farming and cattle ranching.
Homer Community leaders and presenters included Lori Evans, Homer News editor, and Carey Restino, Homer Tribune editor, on the role of the two major newspapers, and KBBI Public Radio as the major media sources in the area. Kyra Wagner, with Sustainable Homer and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), plus Craig Sanders with the Department of Agriculture, gave an overview of the cost incentives for agricultural producers on the Kenai Peninsula. Carey Restino, spoke about the Kenai Peninsula Food Hub as a major way for consumers to connect on-line with a wide array of producers. The Homer Farmers’ Market was highlighted as the major way to meet truck farmers, local gardeners, artisans and craft producers during the Summer months on Saturdays and Wednesday afternoons. Ina Jones, representing the Alaska Beauty Peony Co-op spoke about the growth of peony farms throughout Alaska and Homer. Jones, is a long time Homesteader and cattle rancher and also talked about the importance of the farming industry. A lively discussion and exchange of ideas occurred with the Mongolians describing their emerging visitor and farming industries.
The Bed and Breakfast Association, represented by Pat Malone from Spyglass B&B and Anna Rodriquez from Homer Stay and Play B&B served an array of homemade and garden grown taste treats produced by local farmers for brunch. Vida’s Resturant catered lunch with Bear Creek Winery donating wines to compliment the Thai food menu.
Jan Knutson, Chamber Visitor Center Manager, presented the Delegation with a packet of information including the Chamber’s year-round business directory, maps, Edible Alaska magazine and the Chamber’s “Certificate of Arrival at the End of the Road.”