It's still early in the growing season, but that won't stop the farmers markets. By Saturday, four outdoor farmers markets will be open.
Wednesday is the final indoor market of the year the Center Market at The Mall at Sears. The market is moving outside on Saturday and then will be open twice weekly.
The indoor market this week has products from A.D. Farm, Country Health Foods, Matanuska Creamery, Northern Lights Mushrooms and Sleeping Lady Alaskan Foods.
Duane Clark said he will have grass-fed beef, Alaska seafood, goat cheese, plants from Mile 5.2 Greenhouse in Eagle River.
Matanuska Creamery will have cheeses, butter and ice cream, while Sleeping Lady should have breads from the House of Bread and meats from Indian Valley Meats.
Many of the vendors will return from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday. Clark, one of the organizers, said Northern Lights Mushrooms will only be at the market on Wednesdays.
The Center Market is celebrating its 104th consecutive weekly market this week -- two straight years of providing locally produced items.
Also opening this weekend is the Anchorage Market and Festival, open Saturday and Sunday downtown.
In its second week for 2012, the Anchorage Farmers Market on 15th Avenue and Cordova Street is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Vendors scheduled are Bushes Bunches, Arctic Organics, Persistent Farmer, Matanuska Creamery, Floriponics and Fee's Custom Seafoods.
Arctic Organics' River and Sarah Bean have been the market organizers for years. And even this early in the season, they will have some tasty fresh Alaska vegetables, including arugula, lettuces and some basil. Also available will be last fall's harvest of potatoes, including German butterball, yellow Finn, russet, pimpernel, desirée, magic molly purple and cherry red.
They also will have items for gardeners itching to get the season started, including plenty of vegetable and flower seedlings, potatoes for planting and tomatoes that can be grown outdoors or in greenhouses.
Rebecca Langton of Fee's Custom Seafoods said they will be at the market throughout the year. This week they'll have fresh Prince William Sound coon-stripe and spot shrimp, along with smoked salmon.
Rob Wells will be at the market with tomato plants (both cold-weather and greenhouse varieties) along with dahlia starts. He will also take orders for ferns that are ideal for landscaping in shaded garden areas. Wells also will have Matanuska Creamery products, including heavy cream.
At the South Anchorage Farmers Market, organizers are promoting a special Mother's Day celebration and inviting market-goers to step up to the open mike and sing a song for mom.
Earthworks Farm will have tulips, available in a vase or to take home without the vase. The stems are still on the bulb, so customers can plant them after the blooms fade. They also will have their special AKBunsky Muesli Cereal, a European-style breakfast cereal with 16 ingredients. The cereal is formulated and packaged at Earthworks Farm.
Arctic Choice Seafood will have fresh troll-caught king salmon fillets, halibut fillets, sablefish, rockfish, side-stripe shrimp, spot shrimp, scallops, Dungeness crab and other seafood items.
Other vendors include those selling plants and plant starts (Blue Poppy, Heart of the Mountain Organics, Gray Owl Farm, Glacier Valley Farm) and food items (Mat Valley Meats, Pinky's Kettle Korn, French Oven Bakery, Amazing Natural Treats and Los Tacos).
Local farmers' markets
Wednesday: Center Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street. Saturday: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 15th and Cordova in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot. Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets. Center Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street. South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Subway-Cellular One Sports Center, corner of Old Seward Highway and O'Malley Road. Sunday: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets.
The Spenard Farmers Market opens May 19, but market fans can get in the spirit a little early.
The Spenard Farmers Market Kick-off Party and Benefit Concert is 8 p.m., on Thursday at Tap Root Cafe.
Music will be provided by High Lonesome Sound and Orion; market T-shirts and tote bags will be for sale. A $10 donation is suggested.
It's time to Rise and Shine
Rise & Shine Bakery breads are available at the South Anchorage Farmers Market later in the season -- once it gets a little bit warmer -- but they are taking orders for bread to be delivered on May 16. (They plan to be at the June 9 market.)
Orders should be placed by Sunday. Visit www.riseandshinebread. com to place an order and get more details. Breads available for delivery next week include spent grain, levain, fresh rosemary, kalamata olive, and raisin and pecan.
Bread must be ordered ahead and can be picked up at either Side Street Espresso downtown or at Summit Spice & Tea Co. in South Anchorage.
From the sea
Dannon Southall from 10th & M Seafoods is looking ahead just a bit this week: "The Copper River opens ... May 17 and they will be fishing throughout that day. As long as they are able to catch these first of the salmon season fish, we will have these fish in here late Friday or Saturday."
While those fresh Copper River salmon are still a few days away, there is plenty currently available.
"Fresh halibut is still hitting the docks daily and our very skilled filleters are cutting them every day," Southall said. Halibut cheeks and fillets are $18.95 per pound. Headed and cleaned fish are $10.95 a pound for 10- to 20-pound fish.
Jumbo Alaska red king crab is $28.95 per pound and would be perfect for Mother's Day, Southall said.
Jumbo tiger prawns are $16.95 a pound. Other options include fresh rockfish, Dover sole and catfish fillets.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a Market Fresh column, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.