Farmers markets

Jenny Neyman

More farmers markets crop up in Alaska every year. New markets took root in Nikiski, Seldovia and Seward in the last two years alone.

Just ask Robbi Mixon. She’s executive director of the Homer-based Alaska Farmers Market Association.

Sabine Poux/KDLL

Stacy Oliva loved growing up in Nikiski, enough to stay and raise her kids there.

But she said there was never a place for the community to gather.

Photo Elizabeth Earl

Like little kids, the flowers at Funny River Peonies are tucked under blankets while they sleep. Springtime means it’s time to wake up.

“Once we get these off, these blankets off, then I’ll be going around and putting fertilizer and lime in every hole, ’cause we do that in the spring," said Denise Carey. "We also put a pre-emergent weed spray down so the seeds don’t germinate.”

While the coronavirus has interrupted just about every aspect of life, there is a bastion of normalcy this summer — fresh, local produce from farmers markets.

Market managers and vendors were anxious in May, not knowing how or if they’d be able to operate this summer. The markets operated differently — more spacing between booths, masks, hand sanitizer and the like. But some things haven’t changed this year — gardens are still growing and people are still shopping.

When we’re stressed, it can be easy to rely on junk food. After all, fresh produce can be expensive in Alaska, too. But a number of central peninsula groups are trying to make it easier to stock up on delicious produce.

The Kenai Peninsula Food Bank has been extra busy this summer, with the pandemic putting extra pressure on the peninsula. The food bank is based in Soldotna but serves the entire borough and has been making runs with fresh produce out to more of the outlying communities as part of a “farm-to-family” program. Executive director Greg Meyer said the food bank was able to use donations to purchase a used refrigerated truck, too, which helps now that they are able to distribute fresh milk, too.

Courtesy of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District

Farmers market season is right around the corner but so is a giant crop of uncertainty regarding COVID-19 restrictions.

Still, market organizers on the central Kenai Peninsula are planning to open on schedule, if not completely as normal.