This has been a super year of weather for veggies and everyone is benefitting down at the Homer Farmers Market. With the quantity and variety available, it’s hard to believe that so few people are providing it.
There is no better example of farmers manically planting massive quantities of veggies than Bob Durr. He used to work 12-14 hour days in the housing projects of New Jersey and then unwind at the end of the day by doing chores for his 50-plus head of livestock.
He moved to Alaska eight years ago and started farming about five years ago. He has no secrets, he will tell anyone what he is growing and how he is growing it. He’s not afraid of competition because he doesn’t figure that we will be growing all of our own food any time soon.
He doesn’t use chemicals and he does love hoop houses. He has more than five acres planted, some by his house and about 10 times as much in a larger field nearby.
Bob has numerous greenhouses, hoop houses and high tunnels for tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, zucchini and other crops like early carrots.
Bob has gotten knocked back in the last couple of years with a broken leg, but he never gives up. He plants kohlrabi, kale, potatoes, beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, bok choy, greens and more, but he admits that this year he got tons of starts for free or low cost from the professional greenhouses.
At the end of their season when they would have thrown out the leftover starts, Bob was happy to plant them.
He’s not in it for the money (as if you can get rich farming), but he just can’t sit still. He plants more than he could ever harvest by himself. He will be opening his fields up for you-pick days in mid-August, so schedule a day to head out to Nikolaevsk for some serious quantities of food.
And head down to the Market on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. to get some of Bob’s first onions of the year.
Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.