Thinking globally, eating locally grown produce can help reduce global warming says Farmers Fresh Market manager Dan Funk of the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District. “The less produce that has to be transported from as far away as Chile to Alaska the less carbon emissions, which contribute to global warming. But the major benefit from locally grown produce is freshness. Much of what you buy here at the Farmers Fresh Market was harvested just hours before it comes here which means not only is the taste better, but the health value due to the higher nutrients in fresh produce is a significant factor,” says Funk. The Farmers Fresh Market moved from Soldotna this year to the Peninsula Food Bank located a few miles out K-Beach Rd. across from the KPC turn off to give local buyers a place where they can avoid a lot of the Soldotna summer traffic.
According to AmeriCorp Vista volunteer at the Food Bank Bonnie Miller who helps coordinate the Tuesday market nearly 60 people were lined up and waiting for the market to open last week, “People understand that we have to give the farmers time to set up their booths with their produce, many of them pick just before they come so it is as fresh as possible so we make people wait until exactly 3:00pm before letting them in, but it’s exciting because everyone wants to be the first to get the freshest. We love having it here at the Food Bank because if the vendors don’t sell out most of them will donate what’s left to the Food Bank and many customers buy two of something and give one to the Food Bank or we have a cash donation can where they can like leave a tip for the Food Bank and we buy food for distribution with their cash contributions,” she explained. Bonnie says more and more people are coming and they have been averaging 220 each week since they opened the market at the Food Bank. “We have 8 vendors each week with space for a couple more which we expect to fill up as the harvest season locally increases,” she said.
Judy Fischer of Fisher’s Fresh Farm Produce in Kasilof has been a promoter of the Farmers Fresh Market for many years. Growing and selling local produce has become a passion for her whole family, “I’ve got great healthy kids who are extremely smart and who love to grow and sell what we produce. I use to have allergies to trees and grasses and I’m completely cured because I’ve ingested locally grown produce and pollen gathered by our bees. It made me a true believer and now I’m a bee keeper as well and have local pollen gathered by our bees here for sale at my booth,” said Fischer. The Farmers Market says Judy gives local folks who don’t garden or have bees themselves the opportunity to have the same fresh produce and benefits as those that do while supporting the local growers, “What I have here I just picked before coming to the market at the peak of its nutritional value, ripeness and taste. It’s wonderful to share it with folks who support their community farmers. We’re not picking our produce before its ripe to be shipped to some far away destination like in the lower 48 and that makes a huge difference in taste as well as nutritional value,” she said. Judy says coming into season is broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and lots of local berries in addition to the fresh flowers, eggs, jellies and jams that can be found at the Farmers Market every Tuesday from 3:00pm – 6:00pm now through September.