Calling all gardeners and lovers of fresh vegetables.
This year’s annual Harvest Fair, sponsored by the Juneau Community Garden Association, will kick off at 11:30 a.m. at Juneau’s oldest and largest community garden located just off Montana Creek Road.
The event is not only the largest fundraising event of the year for the JCGA, but it is also a chance to praise the bounty of Southeast, which, as Special Events Coordinator Odette Edgar said, is the aim of the festival.
“The driving goal is to celebrate vegetable gardening in Juneau,” she said. “(Southeast) is a challenging gardening environment. (The event) showcases the garden, but it also showcases individualsgardeners. It’s a chance for people to bring beautiful carrots and gorgeous potatoes … to show off the different things people can grow.”
But the fair goes beyond just produce. Fresh cut flowers will be on display, jams and jellies will be judged and highlighted, homemade chili and baked goods will be made available for sale, a farmers’ market will feature fresh produce, live music will play, photography will be on display and activities for kids will round out the event.
“It’s a little like a state fair,” Edgar said. “We have those competition elements. It’s just really amazing to see what people can grow.”
Every year the fair hosts a competition of locally-grown produce, both fresh and preserved. All Juneau gardeners are invited to participate, especially members of other community gardens and young gardeners. They can submit entries between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Entry forms will be available at the garden and at the UAF Cooperative Extension office at the Bill Ray Center. For entry requirements in the adult and youth categories, go online to www.juneaucommunitygarden.org. A panel of master gardeners, headed up by Ed Buyarski, will conduct the judging. The exhibit opens at noon for viewing, and prizes are awarded at 1 p.m. Entries in Division B — the largest and most unusual vegetables — seem to always draw a big crowd, Edgar said.
The farmers’ market will open promptly at 11:30 a.m. and will feature donated produce that was either cut early that morning or the day before. She said the quality of vegetables and herbs is superb and sales are often quite brisk.
“We’ve found that people really appreciate the fresh vegetables,” Edgar said. “They’re very fresh and wholesome.”
Also beginning Sunday morning will be the children’s events, which, like past years, will include a hay treasure hunt, a beanbag toss and the ever-popular chicken poop bingo. Jeff Brown will also be on hand to tie balloon animals and vegetables for kids. Other entertainment will include folk music courtesy of Gerry Fiscus and Friends.
Juneau photographers are also invited to submit images of gardens, flowers or vegetables for exhibit in the pump house shed. Fair attendees will be able to vote on their favorite photos.
Food will also be available. Homemade chili and desserts along with hot dogs, corn on the cob and beverages can also be purchased at the fair.
And for anyone interested in investing in a plot or renewing plot rentals, volunteers will be on hand to assist. In all, the garden has 161 plots. About 100 people pay $35 a year to work the beds, which are roughly 10 feet by 20 feet in size. Guided tours of the garden are also available during the fair.
The Juneau Community Garden is a nonprofit organization formed in 1993 with the help of the Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners. Funds raised from the Harvest Fair help garden volunteers maintain a water system, an electric fence, provide soil amendments like sand and brewery grain, and rentals for heavy equipment to manage the soil amendments and garden refuse.
For more information, go online to www.juneaucommunitygarden.org.