Farmers market is growing quickly at Kodiak fairgrounds

Bonnie Dillard looks at a table full of assorted greens at the Farmers Market at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds Saturday morning. This was Dillard's third time attending the market. (Derek Clarkston photo)

KODIAK — Bonnie Dillard came to Saturday’s farmers market at the Kodiak Island Fairgrounds to find out what other people are growing in their hoophouses.

She left with a bushel of greens and ideas for her own house.

“I love this thing,” she said. “I think it is something Kodiak really needs. As food prices go up, being able to grow our own food is really important.

“I just love seeing my friends and encouraging each other.”

Dillard was one of many who walked away satisfied on a sunny day nine miles outside of Kodiak city.

Saturday marked the seventh market at the fairgrounds, all of them as successful as the first. Twelve tables stocked full of produce, baked goods, yarn, eggs, woodwork and jellies were available for people to peruse beneath the outside stage.

The market, the first at the fairgrounds since the 1990s, was the brainchild of Bernie Deplazes, but she is the first to say it was a group effort to get it started.

“I was talking with a friend who wanted to sell some of her stuff,” Deplazes said. “We came up with several suggestions and wondered if the fairgrounds would let us. We approached them and they said, ‘Yeah, do it.’”

Deplazes, whose table was lined with greens, soaps, bread and crafts, said the only rule for the market is the producer has to be the seller.

“This is a direct market,” she said.

Vendor Marie Rice said the market couldn’t have happened without the growing local popularity of hoophouses, plastic-sided greenhouses that use semicircular rings for support. She said there are about 30 on the island. Rice has two.

“We can produce things much earlier than normal,” she said. “We can grow crops in there that just don’t grow outside in Kodiak.”

Rice added that by the end of the year more than 250 hoophouses will have been built in the Kodiak-Kenai Peninsula area, the most in the nation for one area.

Rice also enjoys the atmosphere of the market.

“The best part is it is just a happy den of voices,” she said. “People, especially last week, take the things they bought to their cars and come back just to visit.”

Rice also is involved with BearTown Market outside the Sun’aq Tribal Center downtown. The first market in town is July 30, and it recurs every two weeks after that through the end of August.

“We hope to have both places going at the same time,” Rice said.

Chris Rock came to Saturday’s market to trade chicken, goose and duck eggs with vendors.

“I would like us to have more of these so we can just trade things and appreciate what we have in our own community,” she said. “I think it is better to support each other than purchasing items from Outside.”

Deplazes said she plans to keep the market open until the end of September. She urges people to donate $5 to give back to the fairgrounds board.

“A lot of the people drive out to the end of the road on a nice day, and I think we are getting to be known,” she said.

The market opens at 10 a.m. and is usually done by 1 p.m. However, Deplazes said when more produce becomes available, the market may stay open later.

Rice had only one suggestion to make it better.

“We need music,” she said. “That is the one missing thing. We need music ongoing.”

Contact mirror writer Derek Clarkston at sports@

Market Schedule

• The Kodiak Island Fairgrounds farmers market is held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday.

• Another market will begin at 10 a.m. July 30 at the Sun’aq Tribal Center. The schedule varies after that, but printed schedules are available at the market.

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