Flowers bring even more to the Homer Farmers Market than all those flower baskets and beautiful bouquets. At this time of year we also start to see evidence of their bountiful nectar as bottles of honey start popping up at different booths.
Honey is like gold and goes quick. There is no one producer right now who only sells honey, so you will have to search for it throughout the Market. Usually beekeepers will partner up with other vendors to use booth space since the honey season goes so quickly.
And then there are some producers who harvest honey themselves. One such booth is run by Judy Moss, Bill Bartee and their daughter Rebecca. They have been gardening in Alaska for 20 years and added the art of beekeeping to their list seven years ago.
They have a garden for home use in Anchorage and an apple and cherry orchard where they keep two hives of bees. They have a friend whose apple orchard is home to two more of their hives.
Then, there is one at their place in Homer. Down here they put in a 30-by-72-foot high tunnel and an outside garden of the same size. That new ground kicked their veggie production up to the level of Market production. Between the produce coming from inside and out and native tree saplings they have potted up from their property, they have had quite a full booth all season.
Now add their honey to the mix.
This has been a particularly good year for production, but Bill and Judy have learned in their years of raising bees that such abundance is not always the case.
Years that are cold and rainy can yield nothing and since honey-producing bees are not native to Alaska, over-wintering them is a difficult task. Buying new bees yearly can add up to hundreds of dollars.
They have learned to value every last drop of their Alaska honey.
So, head down to the Homer Farmers Market on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. to find the sweetness hiding there.
Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.