This is the best time of the year for visiting farms and gardens. Last weekend’s Homer Garden Club garden tours had more than 300 visitors. With everything growing, it’s hard to resist a peek.
Last week I took the drive out to visit Bob Durr’s farm in Nikolaevsk. One of the Homer Farmers’ Market’s longest selling produce vendors, Bob has enthusiastically built up quite an extensive farm. He has two fields. The one by his house is stuffed with green houses and high tunnels; the other has three acres under cultivation with plans to cover as much as seven with more fields and five more of his 32-by-20-foot greenhouses. (See related story.)
The quantity of food in the ground (and the work it implies) is staggering. There are radishes, peas, zucchinis, beets, kohlrabi, broccoli, purple and lime green cauliflower, romanesco, cucumbers, potatoes and more, mostly in rows longer than 100 feet long. He plants his rows 44 inches apart so that his tractor can run over them with his cultivator, destroying the weeds but not harming the vegetables. He creates more of his own dirt by sifting the topsoil from old stump piles.
Bob obviously has fun with all these projects. But that is not to say that it is easy.
Last winter Bob broke his leg and was unable to get the early spring start that he had been planning. Then, he endured the frustration of losing thousands of plants in his new upper field early in the year due to the unusual lack of rain. Undaunted, Bob went to Al Poindexter, an endless source of advice and supplies. He bought up tons of starts to refill his fields at a discount when Al’s greenhouse season was ending.
And Bob always has plans galore. He plans to build more greenhouses (some on rails and some for sale), build more fence, grow more food. An admitted workaholic, Bob would love to do more and share more. His only limitations are hours in the day.
So, head down to the Homer Farmers’ Market this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. and shake the hand of a hard-working Alaska farmer.
Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers’ Market’s biggest fan.