Homer flocks to first indoor farmers’ market

Homer’s first indoor farmers’ market opened Saturday in a building that had been sitting empty downtown. The event was packed and offered local produce, baked goods, arts and crafts and more.

Shoppers inside Homer's first indoor farmers' market. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KBBI)
Shoppers inside Homer’s first indoor farmers’ market. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KBBI)

Scott Wright is the organizer for the new indoor market.

“I had an idea that this farmer’s market, indoor farmers’ market would be a wonderful event for homer and give our artists and our community an opportunity to thrive in the winter months and have a cozy opportunity in which to do so,” said Wright.

Wright says the market is aimed at locals, but could also bring in more out of towners after the summer tourism season, giving Homer’s winter economy a boost.  The historic Alaska Wildberry Emporium building, where the market is located, belonged to a business with a chain of stores by the same name that started in 1946. The Emporium closed a few years ago and the building has been sitting empty. It’s now owned by Homer Land Holdings, a subsidiary of a company called the Empire Group. The company invests in historical buildings. Wright is leasing the building. He says he’ll rent it out for events once the indoor market season is over.

“We have everything from vegetables and oysters to teas, salves, crafts, honey,” said Wright.

Products are required to be Alaska-made or grown and there’s space for about 30 vendors. The goal is to provide a hub for Homer’s burgeoning cottage industries to grow.

Adrienne Leffler is among a handful of bakers at the market.

“Right now I have some pumpkin bread. I did have pumpkin cookies and they are gone now,” said Leffler.

She says the new indoor venue is just what Homer needs this time of year.

Shopper checks out locally grown vegetables. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KBBI)
Shopper checks out locally grown vegetables. (Photo by Daysha Eaton/KBBI)

“I think it’s something to look forward to every weekend, especially during the holidays cause now we have an extra place to come buy gifts. And it’s nice to have another empty building being used in the town,” said Leffler.

Dave Bisegger drove down from Ninilchik, where he keeps bees, to sell honey. This is only his second time selling his honey at a market and so far he likes it.

“This is a great thing for Homer. This is a great crowd moving through. People seem really thankful that there’s a place to come and do this,” said Bisegger.

Right around the corner was George Spady with Alaskan Boreal Herbs, who drove down from Soldotna to sell tinctures, teas and vinegars.

“Oh, I love this indoor venue. It’s been a lot of really good traffic, I was surprised at how much for this time of year of people that came through,” said Spady.

He says he’s so impressed he’s signed up for the whole market season. There were some farmers selling their fall harvest, like Bob Durr who has a farm near Nikolaevsk.

“Carrots, cabbage, potatoes kohlrabi, beets, kale … I’m trying to think of what else, oh – big zucchini – so you can make zucchini bread or you fry them and eat them,” said Durr.

And Christina Castellanos has the Snowshoe Hollow Farm.

“So I brought some pumpkins from my high tunnel this fall and they were just turning orange…it was perfect timing for this first market. I also brought some organic fibers and some hair scrunchies that I make from my angora rabbits’ hair fibers. [I brought] feather earrings from all of my farm birds, ducks, turkeys and chickens,” said Castellanos.

Unique, locally-grown and locally-made products that customers like Sabine Simmons says will keep her coming back, as long as the market is going.

“I’m hoping they can keep it up all winter and I’ll be here every Saturday,” said Simmons.

The market is scheduled to run 11 am to 4 pm Saturdays until May 1st when the outdoor market starts up again.

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Daysha Eaton, KMXT - Kodiak
Daysha Eaton is a contributor with the Alaska Public Radio Network. Daysha Eaton holds a B.A. from Evergreen State College, and a M.A. from the University of Southern California. Daysha got her start in radio at Seattle public radio stations, KPLU and KUOW. Before coming to KBBI, she was the News Director at KYUK in Bethel. She has also worked as the Southcentral Reporter for KSKA in Anchorage. Daysha's work has appeared on NPR's "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered", PRI's "The World" and "National Native News". She's happy to take assignments, and to get news tips, which are best sent via email. Daysha became a journalist because she believes in the power of storytelling. Stories connect us and they help us make sense of our world. They shed light on injustice and they comfort us in troubled times. She got into public broadcasting because it seems to fulfill the intention of the 4th Estate and to most effectively apply the freedom of the press granted to us through the Constitution. She feels that public radio has a special way of moving people emotionally through sound, taking them to remote places, introducing them to people they would not otherwise meet and compelling them to think about issues they might ordinarily overlook.