Peninsula-based farmers’ market organization wins USDA grant

More and more Farmers’ Markets are popping up in Alaska every year. New markets have taken root in Nikiski, Seldovia and Seward in the past two years alone.

Ask Robbi Mixon. She is the Executive Director of the Alaska Farmers Market Association, based in Homer.

“In 2005, there were only 13 markets in the state,” she said. “And in 2021, our number was 56.”

Mixon wants to continue to sow seeds of support so that even Following markets can arise. The association just won a grant of nearly $ 450,000 from the US Department of Agriculture to expand its services to farmers ‘and farmers’ markets, including peninsula seedling markets.

The Alaska Farmers Market Association has been working to bring farmers’ markets together since 2015. It was around this time that the Homer Farmers Market won a grant to host the first-ever market conference in Canada. ‘State.

“And from there, we got an overwhelming consensus that we could officially relaunch the Alaska Farmers’ Market Association,” Mixon said.

Since then, the association’s goal has been to support farmers’ markets across the state with programs such as centralized marketing and virtual workshops.

With the new USDA grant, Mixon said, the association will expand its professional development opportunities for growers. He also plans to create an Alaska chapter of the Young Farmers Coalition – a national group working to support young farmers and bring more equity to the profession.

“We have a fairly young workforce compared to the rest of the country,” she said. “But that average age is still around 55. So finding ways to make things a little easier – if not easier, more favorable to future farmers who will eventually be our future farmers.”

Mixon said farmers’ markets are great for producers because they can sell directly to consumers. She said she was excited to expand the Alaska Farmers Market Association’s programs to community-supported farm and farm stalls this year as well.

James V. Payne