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Farmers Market It’s not all about veggies; sharing key to success

Posted: August 20, 2014 - 3:03pm  |  Updated: August 20, 2014 - 3:04pm

There is always a sense of community down at the Homer Farmers Market. You can’t go down there without running into someone you know, chatting with a vendor or watching as the kids play together and folks sit soaking up the atmosphere. Constant sharing has always been a mark of the Market.
It’s that way for some of the producers at the Market as well. A good example is in the booth with Olga VonZiegesar.  Or Shelly Gill.  Or whoever is free that week. Shelly, easily recognized with crinkled cowboy hat and “Avalanche Ranch” sign, shares a booth with Olga so that they can make sure it is well-stocked for the entire season.
And they have quite a bit of growing potential. Shelly has two full-sized high tunnels and gardens and Olga has another high tunnel and gardens outside about the same size.   Add to that the lower elevation high tunnel of her partner Tracy Belieu and you can get that food quite early in the season.  
Olga’s favorite thing is to be selling beets and carrots early just to see how blown away customers are that such produce is possible.
Olga, who has studied humpback whales from here to Prince William Sound for years, needs to have a flexible summer schedule. So it is through community that all her production gets maintained. Her home is full of people coming and going — kids, relatives, friends — so it is not surprising that her gardens get maintained and shared by all sorts of people, too.
Olga staggers production — growing products she knows well like broccoli, kale and root crops inside the tunnel for early season use and then outside for late season production.  
One exotic plant growing now in the high tunnel is a hops vine. Like the perfect communal project, the hops blossoms lend themselves to brewing with friends and then selling the surplus blossoms to the Homer Brewery.
Come on down to the Farmers Market on Ocean Drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays to join in the community yourself.
Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.

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