The Homer Farmers Market started back in 1999. That first season had just a handful of vendors selling outside on tables in the parking lot. My, how it’s grown!
At the time, the original founders had that long-range vision of what they hoped it would grow up to be. One of those original vendors, Sharon Roufa of Two Sisters, had been impressed with the vigor and vitality of Amish markets. She could imagine a similar market here with locally grown products and homemade crafts.
Having a strong vision paid off. The few original organizers laid down the infrastructure in by-laws and policies (such as a required ratio of craft to produce vendors) that kept that vision intact as the Market grew. It also allowed for those truly special Homer originals, such as when local physicist James Donnelly used to host the “Ask a Scientist” booth.
Long-time vendors remember the creation of the first Market policy. It was inspired by members of the Homer Garden Club who didn’t like showing up at the 10 a.m. start time to find items had already sold out to early arrivals. So, the bell was born. To this day farmers can’t sell to customers until the bell rings, usually a cow bell carried by an ambitious youth honored with the task.
By the time I started hanging out at the Market 10 years ago, it was already a fixture in the community. I have seen it continue to grow and fill out that initial vision, adding more vendors, kids activities, chef demonstrations and services. It has grown hand-in-hand with our growing agricultural activities on the peninsula and we have seen many vendors create new businesses at the Market.
This week Homer will be hosting the regional representative from Johnny’s Seed company, a huge supplier of cool climate varieties. We are not only on their radar, but also the radar of many other local food movement advocates who are amazed at what is going on here.
Go see for yourself the outcome of that vision down at the Homer Farmers Market on Ocean Drive Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or Wednesdays from 2-5 p.m.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.