Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 10:40 AM on Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Farmers' Market
     Now is the time to gather fresh veggies, store them for winter

Three, two, one, zero ... and the little zucchini cars went flying, bumping and tumbling down the race track, glitter flying. The crowd cheered and the two paramedics came out to pick up the crash casualties in the stretcher. There were crazy decorations and paint jobs, including a replica of the Oscar Meyer Weiner car. Participants, from toddlers to adults, got pins to show that everyone wins.

Next to the Zucchini Races at last weekend's Homer Farmers' Market Zucchini Festival you also could see the largest veggies on display. One cucumber was about two feet long. There was a broccoli that seemed a foot wide, and a carrot that weighed in at half a pound.

This is truly the best time of the year here to show off our veggies. Jim Engebretsen was talking about a mammoth dill variety he has growing more than 7 feet tall.

This is the peak of the season. This is when farmers like Bob Durr start to worry about how they are going to sell all the potatoes from the more than four and a half acres of spuds he planted. This is when the market still has beautiful heads of broccoli, cauliflower, cucumbers, onions, carrots and more available throughout the day.

Why is Bob Durr planting so many potatoes? Why is he putting up four more greenhouses? Because he wants to feed people good, local food. The farmers at the market are dedicated to getting out as much food as they can and now is the visible moment of their success.

But that means you need to take advantage of this bounty. The fun and silliness of the Zucchini Festival was harvested in the smiles of kids participating and creating the ties of community. That is definitely a benefit of the market. But the true reward of the farmers' hard work is the veggies you take home.

Start pulling out those pickling recipes and those freezer bags and planning to store those veggies for winter. Then take your list down to the market from 10 a.m-3 p.m. on Saturday and 3-6 p.m. on Wednesday and load up.

And, remember, bring a big bag.

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