Emilie Springer: Summer Starts with Homer Farmer's Market
The first day of the 2021 Homer Farmer’s Market was May 29th, I stopped by at the end of the day to talk a little about how the first day went. New director Lauren Jerew, hired in March, says, “Things went really well today! We had quite a few people come through and that’s fun to see. The vendors that I've talked to so far say it was a really successful first market. Jerew says the market is doing a head count three times/ day to try and get an idea of how many visitors are stopping by. On the first day? “We probably easily saw 250 or 300 people roll through,” Jerew says, “I think things went off pretty well today and folks are excited to have a more normal season than we did last year.”
Jerew finished school at The University of Iowa in 2016 with a Bachelor’s in Business. “I'm originally from the Midwest. But, I grew up visiting here because my Mom is from Soldotna and I always came up to visit extended family. I was always charmed by the Kenai Peninsula area, so I made my way here once I was free from school,” she said. In college, she participated in a fellowship that focused on expanding access to food security and “I’ve always wanted to stay involved with that,” she said. “I think minimizing food insecurity really does a lot to make a more resilient community.” There’s a little more to share about this important note but first, some more market details for the start of the season.
For day one, not quite all of the vendors were ready to start, but there are 33 full season vendors signed up and there will be others filling in when space is available. To see a vendor list, go to the Homer Farmer’s Market website. There, you can find brief descriptions of vendors available, and many have their own websites to browse, also. About 18 are produce vendors, 7 craft and 11 food. Some of the food vendors produce food on-site and for those interested, these can be consumed in tent covered area. Food vendors offer tacos, jam, kettle corn, ice-cream, bakery stalls, kimchi and other pickled salads.
The Homer Farmer’s Market began in 2000. The mission statement reads “The Market welcomes all growers of farm, garden and greenhouse produce to participate in a weekly market. The market was established…to aid in the development of a sustainable local agricultural community benefit of the greater community of the Kachemak Bay area.”
Although Jerew is just getting started as market director she has a lot of ideas to offer and she’s modest about all of it. Back to the “Food Security” topic: the internship she participated in was for a nonprofit organization that promotes advocacy related to food security programs and expanding access to those who might benefit from assistance. In her words, “it included ending food deserts and those sorts of efforts. It was a yearlong fellowship while I was still in school. I learned a lot about advocacy and just grassroots organizing. It felt really empowering and evolved into a cause that is still really important for me. Lots of people can benefit from this.”
There is a related feature of the Homer Market that is important for the community to know about: an opportunity to double SNAP benefits at the market. SNAP is the acronym for the United States “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program,” previously “food stamps.” Jerew says, “we are matching SNAP dollars, again. Folks can come and spend $40 on their card and get $80 dollars worth of chips to purchase food from the market.” The program is funded with grant assistance from the Alaska Community Foundation in collaboration with the Homer Food Pantry.
Come visit on Saturdays and see what the market has to offer in the busyness of summer, masks still encouraged, snacks and social time available for everyone.