Local groups prep for market season

The 2018 farmers market season is quickly approaching and local organizers are eager to help vendors old and new.

Tonight, the Alaska Food Hub, formerly known as the Kenai Peninsula Food Hub, will be hosting a vendor training and seasons review at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The event will showcase how to become a Kenai Food Hub vendor and answer any questions someone may have about becoming a vendor or continuing membership.

On Friday, the Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District and Alaska Farmers Market Association are hosting a farmers market meet-up, also at the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association.

Starting at 9 a.m., the meet-up will cover everything a potential farmers market vendor may need to know, from laws to success tips.

“There is kind of an insatiable demand for local food,” said Kenai Soil and Water Conservation District Manager Heidi Chay. “That’s why we’re having this event, for people who are interested in considering becoming farmers market vendors, whether they are scaling up their backyard garden, making jams or have their own bees and are making honey.”

There will be a variety of discussions, including a session highlighting tips for success with Kyra Wagner of the Alaska Farmers Market Association and the Homer Farmers Markets and a conversation with representatives from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation on food safety and Alaska’s Cottage Food Law.

The law, Chay said, is designed to allow small producers of low risk foods to make and sell them directly to the public. These include non-potentially hazardous foods such as jams, jellies, pickled vegetables, bread, popcorn, trail mix, pastries and more.

A good rule of thumb, according to the DEC, is that if a food does not require refrigeration, it is most likely non-potentially hazardous.

“This is a networking event and will have specific training tips on how to be successful,” Chay said. “… It’s one stop shopping to learn the fundamentals, find out about the different markets, meet the market managers and talk with experienced vendors.”

There are several markets scheduled for across the peninsula, including a new market in Ninilchik at the Kenai Peninsula Fairgrounds. The market will be open on June 11 and 18 and July 2 and 20 from 1 to 5 p.m.

The Soldotna Saturday Market will be held on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from June 9 to Sept. 8. It’s located at the corner of Kenai Spur Hwy and East Corral.

Starting June 5, the Food Bank will once again be home to the Farmers Fresh Market each Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m.

Reach Kat Sorensen at ksorensen@peninsulaclarion.com.

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