Backyard

Aquaponics: A blast of green in midwinter

Update: This article has been updated with a note at the end of the article noting that tilapia fish are illegal to grow in Alaska.


In midwinter when Homer seems gray and gloomy, the prospect of fresh vegetables at the Homer Farmers Market can’t come soon enough. Two growers experimenting with aquaponics, the merger of aquaculture with hydroponic gardening, have introduced into local markets something that might seem unimaginable in January: fresh, vibrant green veggies.

Sportsman’s banquet: a fun evening not just for men

It began as a mid-winter event for men to swap hunting and fishing stories. Six years later — or maybe seven; organizer Rick Paulsrud isn’t quite sure — it’s still an opportunity for storytelling and a potluck with items featuring fish and game.

The “men only” part didn’t stick, however.

“It started out just for men, but the ladies wanted to be involved, too,” said Rick Paulsrud. “It’s turned into everybody and it’s fun. We’re glad it is what it is now.”

Emblem club: dedicated to 'truth, justice, charity'

Four years after Emblem Club No. 350 began in Homer, the following notice ran in the two-month-old Homer News in March 1964: “The Emblem Club is now running the Bingo at the Elks on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. $2 a card with two jackpots. Public invited.”

More than 50 years later, the Homer club is still going strong, including the Wednesday night Bingo games that help fund the club’s scholarship effort.

Thanksgiving baskets: sharing food for 30-plus years

If it seems like the Kachemak Bay Lions Club, Thanksgiving Basket program has been around forever, well, that might be because it has become so entrenched as a holiday tradition it just seems that way. 

Once again, the Lions  Club starts the holiday giving season off with its program to provide all the fixings for a Thanksgiving holiday meal. The recipe for success, as mastered by chairwoman Fran Van Sandt, goes like this:

• See who needs help;

• Raise money and food;

Chronicling the history of homer’s oldest church

Homer’s oldest church didn’t start out with large numbers, a good band, or even its own building. Instead, it started with just a few homesteaders gathering together for Sunday services.  

Because travel was harder — there weren’t as many roads in the late 1930s — some would meet in downtown Homer on the beach, and later at the Women’s Club. The others met in a log schoolhouse until they built the “Homer Heights Church,” near what is now East Hill.  

Alaska Bible Institute built on faith, hard work

Alaska Bible Institute began its 49th year of training and equipping Christians for life and ministry this month.  

What words would describe nearly half a century of hard work and faith?

Pastor Ray Arno leans back at his desk. “Brief,” he pauses, thinking, then adds, “rewarding.”

Arno continues to speak, his voice thoughtful. “If I had it to do over … I would do it again.” 

Haunted Hickory: Always ready for frightening fun

The U.S. Coast Guard’s motto “Semper Paratus” — Latin for “always ready” — perfectly sums up the decades-long attitude of local Coasties using a Homer-based cutter to deliver a Halloween fright. 

Twenty-three years ago, the USCGC Sedge treated area residents to the first ship-based haunting. According to Nov. 7, 1991, Homer News coverage, it “scared the socks off more than 650 visitors.” Thirty crew members and their families worked together to provide the public with a “bloody good time,” Petty Officer Raymond Harrod is quoted as saying.

Hospice of Homer: End of life care since 1985

The birth of Homer of Hospice started the way many lower Kenai Peninsula organizations began: Someone saw a need, jumped in and inspired others to create an organization. For Hospice of Homer, that person is Jean Hatfield, who founded the organization in September 1985. 

Now in its 29th year, Hospice of Homer holds an open house 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at its new offices on Pioneer Avenue in the lower level of the historic Pioneer Hardware building next to Captain’s Coffee.

East End Road: Under construction since 1925

For the past summer, residents and visitors driving East End Road past Kachemak Drive have had to endure waits from 15 to 30 minutes — and sometimes longer — as flaggers restrict traffic to one way. Tempers have flared and people haven’t been shy about complaining.
“My chair rumbled under my butt all day long,” said Kelly Cooper, who lives about a half-mile from the Kachemak Drive intersection. Cooper also owns Glacier View Cabins. “Hence my post on Facebook: I’m done completely.”

Coastwalk: 30 years of monitoring beaches

Since November of 1984, volunteers have been walking Kachemak Bay beaches, trash bags and clipboards in hand, with two goals in mind: clean up the beaches and monitor shore life and human activities. Now in its 30th year, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies’ CoastWalk has become a fall ritual for many who annually return to beaches they’ve adopted to track.

Annual festival honors boats, boatbuilders

When it began, the Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival was timed to happen in May, the same time as the Shorebird Festival. Having grown into an event all its own, the 22nd annual Kachemak Bay Wooden Boat Festival has its very own place on Homer’s busy calendar. 

This year’s festival begins tonight, with a singing of sea chanteys and the telling of tall tales, as only those who have spent time on the sea can creatively present, and continues through Sunday with a group paddle from the Spit to Green Timbers and back.

Kenai Peninsula Fair: 63 years old and counting

In 1951, the southern Kenai Peninsula had two fairs, one in Homer and one in Ninilchik.

According to a newspaper story on Aug. 11, 1951, plans were being finalized for that year’s Homer fair, with the Skyway Theatre offering space for baking and canning displays, as well as textile, clothing, knitting and crocheting exhibits.

That also was the year Mary Hawkins of Ninilchik founded the Ninilchik State Fair, collaborating with the community’s Parent Teacher Association. It was held in the Ninilchik School basement.

Homer Spit Campground: 40 years a family tradition

As long as people have been visiting the Homer Spit, they have camped outdoors. Archaeologists have found shell middens at Green Timbers, the former forest on the Spit destroyed by the 1964 earthquake when the Spit sank 5.9 feet. In 1896, 800 miners on their way to the gold fields of Hope and Sunrise camped on the Spit. In the July 8, 1964, Homer News, Dr. John Fenger, a city council member, found some campers at Green Timbers and had to warn them of an upcoming 20-foot tide.

PARKS DAY: CELEBRATING EARLY HOMER SPIT HISTORY

Most everyone knows the story of the naming of Homer, and how in April 1896, 50 men and one woman, Della Banks, came with the Alaska Gold Mining Company and settled on the Homer Spit. Needing a name for a post office, the crew decided to name it after Homer Pennock, one of the group.

Not as well known, though, are earlier incarnations of Homer: Uzintun, or “extends out into distance,” the Dena’ina name for the Spit; Mys Ugolnoy, or Coal Cape, the Russian name; Coal Bay, a mining camp at the base of the Spit; and even Andersonville, a tent camp.

Harbormaster office: an unclear chapter of Homer history

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer
With work already begun on a new harbormaster office, the future of the existing one is uncertain. (See related story, page 1.)
“If you want my two cents, this building needs to be removed and we should create parking in this area… until a higher and better use comes along,” said Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins.
Carey Meyer, the city’s public works director, is of a similar mind.
“Maybe the old site can be — and this is a decision for the city council and others — used for additional parking,” said Meyer.

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