Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 12:17 PM on Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Farmers' Market Food connects community in lots of ways

Imagine a former pro-basketball player looking down at you with dark brows, huge muscles and his deep voice saying, "Everybody should touch the soil. It really changes how you feel about everything in your life."

Actually, there is just such a man in Milwaukee by the name of Will Allen. He's the founder of the inspirational garden/greenhouse/aquaponics/vermicomposting complex that has become Growing Power.

Allen figures Growing Power can feed 10,000 people from its three acres of 150 different crops, including 100,000 fish. He loves teaching young and old alike how to create growth in the soil that makes it all possible.

I had to tell you that story so I could tell you this one. Last weekend I had a visitor drop in with friends from out of town. It happens all the time, right? But this one happened to be the president of the board of Growing Power, Jerry Kaufman, and his wife, Judy. For a food and soil geek like me, it was a brush with greatness.

And I told you that so I could tell you this. Connecting over food creates community and what a great community we have.

How great is it that people like the Kaufmans want to come here? What's even better is that while they were visiting, a friend dropped in to ask about techniques for pruning tomatoes. Judy said she picked up some pointers from the discussion. Meanwhile, I learned from Jerry how Growing Power hoop houses are warmed in the winter solely with the heat of compost piles.

The connections over food don't just happen when guests visit. That same day a friend came over to get some beet greens from us, and later a friend gave us some fresh halibut. The week before we had gone to a potluck where the focus of the evening was, yes indeed, the high tunnel tour and fresh tomato taste test.

And the connections continue this Saturday at the Homer Farmers' Market from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. There will be cooking demonstrations every hour led by Robin McAllistar. You gotta love this community. Is there anything closer to heaven?

Kyra Wagner is director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers' Market's biggest fan.