Originally published in The Northern Light

The neighborhood of Mountain View just inaugurated its first farmers market. From local music acts performing throughout the day to families selling homemade treats for the neighborhood to enjoy, the Mountain View Farmer’s Market is full of diversity. The Mountain View Farmer’s Market is different from other markets around the city of Anchorage. One will find your usual stands of fresh Alaska grown veggies and fruit, but in addition to farmers market necessities, one will also find less traditional merchandise for sale at the market.

Pepper spray, stash cans and stun guns are just a few of the products Peggy Giles and her husband sell at their stand at the weekly market. Giles, who’s husband became quadriplegic a few years ago, is taking advantage of the market to help her husband get outside and meet new people. Cool Stuff Safety Products is Giles personal call to action. Giles, who serves on the Board of Directors for Seeking Alaska’s Missing, was a family friend of Samantha Koenig, the barista who was abducted from the espresso stand where she worked in 2012. Koenig’s abduction and murder shook the city of Anchorage, and no doubt those closest to her. Giles believes her products can help prevent others from facing similar fates.

“We feel like if Sam were to have some of these devices the night she was kidnapped, she might have got away. Because we feel so strongly about people being able to protect themselves, that’s why we sell this product instead of any other,” Giles said. “We want to put more stun guns and pepper spray in the hands of people in this town, so that they can protect themselves against predators.”

Other unique stands include Uncle Leroy’s Coffee, a mobile coffee stand run out of 1968 school bus by uncle Leroy himself. The coffee stand is equipped with minimal outdoor seating where you can watch live music and the happenings of the market as you sip on your fresh cup of coffee.

The farmers market is in a large field with plenty of space for children to play in the grass with hula-hoops and bubbles as their parents shop local.

The market began as initiative of the Anchorage Community Land Trust to bring the unique and diverse attributes of the neighborhood into a showcase and community space for the neighborhood, and the city to enjoy. The Anchorage Community Land Trust owns the lot where the market takes place. The lot, which was currently not in use, will provide a meaningful community space in the summer.

The goal of the market is to provide economic growth for a neighborhood where, according to the U.S. Census, 70 percent of its residents identify as an ethnicity other than white, one in three people live below the poverty line and 22 percent of the population is unemployed. The market will be a place where local small businesses can showcase their products to the rest of the city.

“At least half of the vendors are Mountain View residents and business owners. I think it’s a really unique opportunity for Anchorage to come in and share the culture and food experience that the neighborhood offers,” Emily Cohn, the Development & Communications Coordinator for Anchorage Community Land Trust, said. “We have a really high prevalence of gardeners in the neighborhood. Being the most diverse census tract in the U.S., we have a lot of different cultures represented. It’s not a market that is selling $12 pasta, not to knock it, but it’s intended to be by and for Mountain View residents.”

The Mountain View Farmer’s Market started on June 16 and runs until August 25 from 3 – 7 p.m. every Thursday.

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