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Even in rain, good farmers market turnout

Posted: June 4, 2013 - 8:31pm  |  Updated: June 5, 2013 - 8:42am

Despite the rain, a number of people milled through the drooping popup tents in the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank’s parking lot on Tuesday. It was the first Farmers Fresh Market.

“I live down the road a little way and I said I better see how wet they are,” said Judy Wilson, standing under Linda and Steve Albers’ popup tent.

The market’s goal is to promote local food production and consumption. Its motto: “Whole food for the whole community.” The market runs every Tuesday from 3-6 p.m. during the summer. It sells only locally grown food; no crafts.

“We had a flurry of people, but it’s tapering off because of the rain,” said Bonnie Miller, food bank food donor coordinator. “But they’ll be back.”

She said she was happy with the turnout.

The food bank and the Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District co-sponsor the event. The food bank has room for 12 vendors, and each vendor is required to donate $10 of produce to the bank each Tuesday for use of the space, Miller said.

Four vendors attended the first market. The Alberses carried mixed Asian greens, pink beauty radishes, beat greens, rainbow chard and kale. Steve Albers said they will be at the market every Tuesday. The other three vendors said they will be too.

“Everybody should buy their stuff here,” Wilson said. The Kenai Peninsula — with high-tunnels and green-thumb ingenuity — has the ability to grow anything, she said. “We can buy razor blades in the store,” she said.

Cindi Ramm said she scaled back her grocery store shopping in anticipation of the market. Ramm, co-owner of the Corner Café in Soldotna, said she plans to shop for produce every Tuesday at the market and, on Wednesdays, supplement the rest of her needs at the grocery store.

And why is that important?

“So I can put out better food for my customers,” Ramm said. “It just seems like a no-brainer to me.”

Also, she said, she wants to support her community, and the Alberses are her neighbors.

“I’m buying as much as I can,” she said.

And Ramm is not the only one. Miller said others have called the food bank requesting more locally grown produce.

Brian Olson, co-owner of Alaska Berries, said he was happy to hear about the market.

“It’s definitely a plus when the whole community supports the farmer,” Olson said. “This gives us an opportunity to get the production to the customer.”

For updates on the market, go to its Facebook page: “Farmers Fresh Market.”

Dan Schwartz can be reached at daniel.schwartz@peninsulaclarion.com.

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