What does it mean to have a healthy local food system? When you think about food security, do you stock up on military MREs, beans and rice, or seeds to plant? Or do you make sure that our community has enough farmers to feed us?
Right now our local farmers down at the Homer Farmers Market are bringing us everything from artichokes and apples to tomatillos and zucchinis. There is no MRE with that kind of variety or nutrition. This is building a kind of community food security that no one individual could do on their own.
But are there enough farmers to feed the whole peninsula?
The Kenai Peninsula Borough is working on its revamped Comprehensive Plan with a section highlighting agriculture. What are the things that the borough could do to encourage a growth in agriculture? Or what could the borough do to get out of the way of this growth in agriculture?
The high tunnel program is still going. Micro farms of less than 5 acres are increasing in number. Most of our Market vendors fit into that category, with most working 1-2 acres.
But many customers say they would buy more if it was available. How do we increase production? How do we get more people farming? How do we make land affordable so young people can get started? How do we get established farmers the labor they need so they don’t break their backs?
The fact is, no matter what great solutions arise to make agriculture a more viable economic option in the future, right now farming is a labor of love.
Dan and Luba know all their favorite varieties and exactly which ones produced best. Bob Durr is already thinking about next year’s innovative crop before he’s harvested this year’s. Colleen will always nurture multiple varieties of mint. Carey’s kids are growing up eating well and learning about sales as they man the booth.
So hug a farmer. You’ll find them at the Market on Ocean Drive Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. or Wednesday from 2-5 p.m. It’s a great place to support our local food heroes.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.