I was raised in a home in the distant suburbs of Philadelphia, Pa., where the summer harvest of our modest garden plot and neighboring fruit trees kept the canner on the stove from July through September. The floor to ceiling shelves in our dirt floor basement bloomed with the color of the canned harvest that would see us through a chilly Pennsylvania winter. My favorite jar was the one filled with grape juice made from the vines that clung to the arbor just outside the garage. But the tomato juice, stewed tomatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, beets, corn and sauerkraut were just as welcome to the palate. Though we had no fruit trees of our own, the neighbors were very generous with sharing. Added to the mix of jars of color in the basement were the peaches, pears, and cherries, as well as the rich, chocolate color of the apple butter.
Vegetable gardening and canning for my mother has always been a way of life, and there is not a year since my birth that she has not grown her own vegetables. I am eternally grateful for her wisdom and determination to grow and preserve nutritional, fresh, organic food (even for 20 years living in Alaska), and for passing those values on to her children and grandchildren.
Our Homer Farmers Market has the same value for me as it expands the viability and affordability of choosing fresh, nutritious, local food in Homer. Knowledgeable and wizened farmers stand ready at their stalls, overflowing with greens, to answer questions, tell stories, impart gardening tips and, most importantly, share the fruits of their hard labor. Beyond the produce, vendors are producing jams and jellies, baked goods, herbs, and medicinal balms. I was thrilled when flowers began to show up in stalls at the Market. That’s when the Market channeled the flavor of European markets for me. Bouquets of bright, colorful, fragrant flowers adorn my coffee table every week in the summer, thanks to the Mother’s Day punch card that my children inspired several years ago through Rachel at Alaska Stems — the gift that keeps on giving all summer long.
But the Homer Farmers Market is so much more to Homer than local grown food and flowers. Spend a morning at the market, and you have contributed in so many ways to the future health and growth of our community, paying it forward. The Market is a gathering place for community. There is a flow to the Market that slows down the pace of life for a bit, and allows the time to catch up from a busy week. The Market creates a space for socializing with your friends and neighbors, enriching the sense of community and commonality. It is a place where all locals bring visiting family to proudly introduce them to the best of our town. I eagerly look forward to Market day where I am sure to run into “snowbirds” freshly returned and bronzed from a winter Outside. The surprise is not knowing which friends will materialize each week, but guaranteed that joy and laughter will ensue.
The Homer Farmers Market is a draw for locals and visitors alike. Tourists throng to the Market where they will experience the flavor that is Homer encapsulated in this small space on the way to the Spit. The Market offers a venue for musicians to share their passion, for local craftsman and food artists to showcase their craft. The Market is free advertising for Homer as a healthy and conscientious community, self-sufficient,and sustainable. Businesses all along the strip to the Homer Spit benefit from the population that is drawn to the Farmers Market, and the reputation of a thriving community generated from that visit. The Market provides jobs and opportunities for students participating in the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOFers). The Market is an educational forum, a place for sharing ideas, recipes and engaging children. The Weekly Chef presentation offers creative options for expanding your culinary interests in fresh produce, as well as providing the expertise to learn to preserve your food once the leaves turn. The Market encourages health and energy efficiency by offering Bike Bucks (coupons) to use at the Market every time you choose to ride your bike to the Market instead of taking your car. The Market is a place of healing, where those grieving or suffering find solace and hope in the positive energy and smiles.
Stop by the Homer Farmer’s Market every Wednesday and Saturday, and embrace the bounty and vibe that pays it forward all summer long.
Terri Spigelmyer is a Trustee for the Homer Foundation and a practicing attorney in Homer. You’ll see her any market day with her mint green bike basket overflowing with flowers and produce.
Nonprofit Needs for August
Pratt Museum needs
• A professional photographer and some models to volunteer for a couple some high quality action shots taken for our marketing efforts.
Contact: Laurie Morrow firstname.lastname@example.org 435-3333
Special Olympics needs
•Bowling Partners starting Aug. 17.
•Volunteers for our Local Bocce Tournament on Aug. 12
• Floor Hockey partners starting in December;
• Fundraising Committee members.
Contact: Carol Shuler 399-2500
Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic could use:
• A picnic table or two
• A bag of fresh fruit once a week – REC Room
• Cans of chili/soup etc for hot snacks – REC Room
• Rreams or cases of copy paper
• Someone to clean windows outside
Contact: Catriona Reynolds email@example.com
Pier One Theatre needs
• hHlp with stump removal.
Contact: Laura Norton firstname.lastname@example.org
Does your nonprofit have occasional needs? As part of the montly Pay it Forward column coordinated by the Homer Foundation, the Homer News will print lists of nonprofit needs. Contact Joy Steward, Homer Foundation, at 235-0541 or email email@example.com