Seeing all those plants at the Homer Farmers Market can be a real inspiration. Whether it’s the aroma of those succulent herbs, the promise of budding beauty from the flowers or your competitive side that gets going when you see all the produce like greens or cucumbers or onions that is already coming in, the Market brings out the rabid gardener in most of us.
Of all people, Charlotte Broste would understand. Better known to everyone as Cookie, she and her husband Ron have been running Cookie’s Greenhouse since 1998. Her booth at the Market is always full of an enticing array of herbs, vegetables and ornamentals.
It all started because she couldn’t stand to throw out viable starts. You know how when you plant your own and more seeds come up than you planned to use? Cookie started selling surplus plants on a table in front of her house in 1996. In 1998, she officially opened her greenhouse business and for the next 10 years ran the greenhouse as well as working full time at the hospital.
Hard work is not new to Cookie. She and Ron moved up here in 1978 and have a 1,000-acre grazing lease up on the North Fork, as well as the 12x20 greenhouse they built in 1996, the 14x40 greenhouse they built in 1999, and the 30x48 greenhouse they built four years later. Now they have added a 30x72 high tunnel, but Cookie says they could really use more considering the demand.
But at age 65 and with the difficulty of finding workers to help out at the greenhouse, she has to ponder if expanding is the best thing to do.
She starts planting in February and usually closes after the July 4th weekend, though she may sell longer at the Market.
She commonly gets orders from Lower 48 families for gift certificates to give locals, and the demand for flower baskets, fruit trees and berry bushes is growing.
Come on down to the Market on Ocean Drive this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to see what this kind of dedication produces.
Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.