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It’s the end of the season: Fairbanks farmers dish on winter vacation plans

Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 6:54 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - It’s that time of year; early morning frost followed by brown and gold leaves falling to the ground.

It’s that time of year we say goodbye to a Fairbanks summer staple: The Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market.

For almost 20 weeks farmers have been growing, gathering, and selling produce at the Tanana Valley Market. With Alaska’s short summer season full of lots of sun, these agriculturists work long, sometimes grueling days growing and harvesting goods for our dinner tables.

But what do farmers do at the end of the season?

Crystal Risse and son Lane pose for a smile in front of their stand at the Tanana Valley...
Crystal Risse and son Lane pose for a smile in front of their stand at the Tanana Valley Farmer's Market. Crystal owns Risse's Greenhouse, a family-run farm.(Sarah Hollister)

Crystal Risse, the owner of Risse Greenhouse, said the work doesn’t stop when the snow falls. The farm has almost 20 greenhouses, several warehouses, a full acre garden, and trees and shrubs on every corner of the property.

“We never have days off. There is always work to do. We are going to clean out and sanitize everything. We are making soil so that we have something to plant in in the springtime,” Crystal said. “We actually have some downtime in December, but then it all starts in January again.”

Her son and farmhand, Lane Risse, said they ran out of soil for the first time last year. He said now is the time to get started on next year’s product. “Soil is pretty extensive of a process. There’s shredding, there’s processing, there is steaming, there is bagging,” Lane said.

But, Lane added, he makes sure to take some downtime to recover. “I just rest. Not moving is an ideal activity of mine, and I’ve got a dog, so taking him out,” Lane laughed. “But just resting, it’s kind of an important thing, and a lot of people don’t really remember to do it.”

Janet Carter helps a customer at the Tanana Valley Farmer's Market on Saturday. Carter owns...
Janet Carter helps a customer at the Tanana Valley Farmer's Market on Saturday. Carter owns Dragonfly farms and has been selling at the market for over two decades.(Sarah Hollister)

Dragonfly Farm has been selling produce at the farmer’s market for over 20 years, but owner Janet Carter has no plans of taking it easy this winter. Her Two River farm grows four acres of produce, and they also have bees and chickens.

“We kind of keep going with the cleanup until snow flys and whatever doesn’t get done is there until spring,” Carter said. “After that, I’ve got lots of craft projects and sewing and things that I want to do and just enjoy the winter.”

Carter said she plans on being a frequent face at bazaars around town with her sewing crafts and honey. Carter said by February she will be preparing for spring.

Christine St. Pierre smiles in front of her produce stand at the Tanana Valley Farmer's...
Christine St. Pierre smiles in front of her produce stand at the Tanana Valley Farmer's Market. She owns Goosefoot Farm which grows vegetables without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.(Sarah Hollister)

Over at Goosefoot farm, owner Christine St. Pierre, said they are ready for some family time - after everything has been cleaned up for winter. “We will rest and sleep a little more and play with our kids,” St. Pierre said.

Goosefoot is a small family-run diversified farm. St. Pierre said the wintertime is for planning and paperwork. ”There is always planning for next season, all of the desk jobs that farmers have,” St. Pierre added.

While this may have been the final *official* day of the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market, the market will be open next Saturday, September 25th, for a bonus day.

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