WASILLAm— Crops are coming into harvest and locals are lining up each week to purchase locally grown produce at the Wasilla’s Farmer’s Market.
“You get to meet the community… Especially when the vegetables come out. People wait for that produce,” The Lead Dog owner Jana Griffin said. “You get a little excited when you get to see the carrots again.”
Griffin was one of the Farmer’s Market food vendors serving out of the parking lot off West Nelson and North Weber Drive, Wednesday, July 21. She said that she has fun being her own boss, getting to work with her son Glacier Morrow, and mingling with the customers and the other vendors. She said there’s a lot of local talent and hard work on display at the Farmer’s Market, whether it’s colorful crafts and jewelry or homegrown fruits and vegetables.
“I like it. There’s a lot of creative stuff. This is nice and down-home,” Griffin said.
Eric and Susan Bush run the market on behalf of the Wasilla Knik Historical Society. They said that local crops started showing up at the Farmer’s Market over the last few weeks, and to expect more as the season swells.
Eric said that groups of people have been standing in line for the produce stands to open. He said it’s not surprising since the market features some of the best local farms.
“It’s fresh when they bring it in here. They make sure they have good stuff,” Eric said.
Amber Byler and her mother Crystal Byler run Willow Branch Farm, a small family operation out of Point Mackenzie. They sell a variety of produce along with baked goods and homemade jams.
Amber said this year’s crops came in later than they would have liked, but everything is going well and they’re looking forward to finishing up the rest of summer at the Farmer’s Market as their harvest continues yielding fruits and vegetables.
“We just like to do it,” Amber said.
Aside from the Farmer’s Market, Amber and Crytal also sell produce at home. She said that people around the area have grown used to looking forward to the annual harvest. She said they receive positive feedback up Point Mackenzie and down at the Farmer’s Market.
“They love it,” Amber said. “They keep coming back for more.”
Willow Branch Farm has been a vendor at the Farmer’s Market for well over a decade.
“One year we had too many tomatoes and a friend said, ‘you should go sell them at the Farmer’s Market…’ and that’s how it got started. We had too many tomatoes one year, and from there it just went, ‘boom, boom, boom,’” Crystal said with a laugh.
Crystal said it’s the only market they participate in. She said working on the farm and selling the fruits of their labor with her daughter has brought them closer together, and they enjoy having a go-to-market that helps them connect with the community.
“You plant the seed, then you see it grow, then it gives the fruit. It’s just so rewarding to go out there and pick it. It just gives you a good feeling, that it’s worth it,” Crystal said. “We like hard work and we like meeting people. It’s just grown on us.”
Awe Shucks Oysters owner Jessica Goldman said this is her second year as a Farmer’s Market vendor. She said it’s been a good season so far. She said that she sold out of oysters during this week’s market.
“It’s a great little market. It’s really social… A lot of people walk here. I think it’s a win,” Goldman said. “I think it’s super important to have markets. It gives people a place to sell their wares. You don’t want to have to drive into Anchorage all the time. We should be able to support local. I think the other important thing is that people have a place to go. Like, ‘every Wednesday we can meet at the market.’
Susan said it’s been a good season so far. She said they have a lot of new vendors working alongside longtime vendors like Willow Branch Farm. She said it’s encouraging to have a solid level of participation with a variety of locally grown food and locally made goods each week.
“Most of our vendors are like a big family,” Susan said. “There’s a lot of people like us that need places to sell stuff that can’t afford buildings.”
The Farmer’s Market runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday through the second week of September. For more information, call 907-357-1464 or visit wkhsociety.org/wasilla-farmer-s-market.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at email@example.com