Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 3:39 PM on Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Farmers' Market Kids integral part of the charm of every Saturday


"Do you like spicy?" the voice asked as I walked down the aisles last Saturday at the Homer Farmers' Market.

I looked around and found the face of the speaker poking out between the bushel baskets of vegetables at the Twitter Creek Gardens booth. "Do you want to buy something?" little Ely asked me. "Do you like spicy?"

That little salesman had me in the palm of his hand. I would have bought every last vegetable on that stand just to see him smile.

Ely has joined the ranks of children growing up with the Market. The Market Gang floats through the crowd mostly unnoticed, creating coalitions, strategies and plans. They roam the patch of woods by the Market, circle in and hit up their parents and local vendors for snacks.

Sometimes they run the Market booth while their parents take care of errands, sometimes they run off to take care of the errands themselves. The sons and daughters of vendors develop a certain bond, a shared experience that involves responsibility and entrepreneurial development, but also that undefined creative use of time and play.

Then there are the kids that visit the Market with their families. While their parents are buying good food and meeting up with friends to chat and listen to the music, they waddle, walk, skip and run to join the ranks of kids surrounding Kayla at noon to see what the kids' activity of the week will be. Whether it is making ice cream with local raspberries like they did last weekend or making puppets this coming weekend, kids of all ages get involved.

I asked some of the Market Gang what their favorite memories were. Chloe said it was making salad as the kids' activity and then bringing it around to share with all the vendors. Theo and Orion reminisced about a spit ball war. (Yuck). When I asked Leo and Thane, who are too old for wooden swords now but were the leaders of the pack for years, they fondly recalled the day they ran the information booth together. Really? Oh, they do grow up quickly.

Kyra Wagner is the director of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers' Market's biggest fan. She can be reached at kyra@ sustainablehomer.org.