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Homer Farmers Market makes fresh produce more accessible in the southern Kenai Peninsula

Completed zucchini cars are placed on a table in preparation for races last Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Homer Farmers Market.
Jamie Diep
Completed zucchini cars are placed on a table in preparation for races last Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, at the Homer Farmers Market. Zucchini Fest is an event the farmers market holds along with the other programs they participate in.

The Homer Farmers Market draws in locals and visitors alike in the summertime with farm fresh produce and a myriad of vendors. The market also supported the local community in the southern Kenai Peninsula through two different programs: the local food purchasing program and SNAP matching.

The local food purchasing program allows the market to buy leftover produce from farmers and delivers it to the Homer and Anchor Point food pantries. Homer Farmers Market Executive Director Lauren Jerew says the program brings many benefits, from fresher produce for the pantries, to giving farmers reliable income.

When we talk about, you know, supporting local farmers, we are enabling a more resilient food system,” she said, “we are allowing farmers to continue doing what they love to do, and we're making it more economically possible for farmers to continue to grow food that nourishes our communities.”

The market began their own smaller food purchasing program in 2021, but last year, they received funding from the Alaska Farmers Market Association, or AFMA. At the Homer Farmers Market’s annual meeting on Jan. 13, they announced they delivered $18,000 worth of produce to the food pantries with the help of AFMA.

AFMA received $90,000 from the Alaska Division of Agriculture to run this program. They also started a different program allowing participating farmers markets to match up to $40 spent for every person with a Quest card.

The Homer Farmers Market has run a matching program locally since 2012, and AFMA co-director Claire Marshalek said they looked to Homer to develop their program.

“We actually use a lot of Homer Farmers Market infrastructure to build out materials for other markets as we launched the first year of the snap matching program,” they said.

Last year, the Homer Farmers Market led the charge by matching $6,291 of SNAP funds through support from AFMA and the Homer Foundation. That is the second highest amount in the program’s history.

Marshalek said matching SNAP funds makes farmers markets more accessible to customers.

“Doubling those dollars, as it may seem obvious, allows folks to purchase more food,” they said, “but it also allows farmers to sell more produce with intention to community members who might not typically be shopping at a certain vendor's booth.”

Looking ahead, Marshalek hopes to double the amount going towards the food purchasing program this year. Funding for the matching program will expire at the end of 2025, but AFMA is advocating for its continuation.

For the Homer Farmers Market, both programs will run this year, but funding amounts remain unclear.

Local News Kenai Peninsula NewsHomer Farmers Market
Jamie Diep is a reporter/host for KBBI from Portland, Oregon. They joined KBBI right after getting a degree in music and Anthropology from the University of Oregon. They’ve built a strong passion for public radio through their work with OPB in Portland and the Here I Stand Project in Taipei, Taiwan.Jamie covers everything related to Homer and the Kenai Peninsula, and they’re particularly interested in education and environmental reporting. You can reach them at to send story ideas.