Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 12:25 PM on Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Farmers' Market
    Diversity is important ingredient in making a farm secure

Termination dust is starting to show up on the mountain peaks. Leaves are starting to take on new colors. And as fall approaches, there is a color explosion at the Homer Farmers' Market.

At this time of the year vegetables are showing off their best colors. Some veggies are flamboyant like rainbow chard with its glowing yellow, pink and red stalks. Some of the exotic Asian "greens" actually are dark maroon. Those shiny red cabbages don't seem to have an ounce of green chlorophyll in them.

Some veggies hide their color in the farmer's field, shading their bounty with their normal green leaves. Imagine the treasure hunt of lifting the bean plants to find, not just green beans, but purple ones or bright yellow wax beans. Or peeling back the cauliflower leaves to see not just white cauliflower, but also lime green cauliflower. Or purple. Or maybe a cheddar orange.

The majority of color being harvested these days is coming from underground. Beets at the market can be that bold dark red or they can be orange. Carrots may be a traditional orange, or red or yellow. Then there are the potatoes. Yes, they can be red, blue or white; but they can be red on the outside and red on the inside too. Or blue on the outside and white on the inside, or maybe just spotted blue, or maybe solid blue all the way through.

All this diversity is what makes a farm secure. If there is a year when one kind of potato doesn't do well, there is probably another variety that will do better. If the bugs attack one variety, they often will avoid another. This aspect of diversity is something that isn't done with large-scale agriculture.

The market is the small-scale answer to diversity. That's why you don't only see the vast rainbow of colors in vegetables, but also in handmade hats and soaps, quilts and jewelry.

So, come on down to the Homer Farmers' Market this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. or Wednesday from 3 to 6 p.m. and find the color that suits you best.

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