The sun is shining in Anchorage, and that's good news for farmers market fans.
More good news comes from the Spenard Farmers Market, which will open Saturday, giving Anchorage shoppers five weekend market options.
The early-season Spenard market will include plenty of plant starts for those ready to dig in the dirt. Among the vendors are: Wild Rose Alaska, with a variety of Alaskan honey and herbal products; Farm Dreams, with a huge variety of plants including vegetable and herb starts, along with ornamental varieties of annual and perennial flowers; Sexton Farms, with herb and veggie starts, along with jams and jellies.
Also at the market is Sharon Ferguson at the Backyard Harvest booth. She specializes in consultation for home gardens. She plans to dish out advice on companion planting, beneficial insects, composting, the benefits of mulch and other gardening information.
"The Spenard Farmers Market is a family friendly event and community atmosphere but still offers high quality organic produce and local products," said market volunteer Stephanie Cuvelenda.
The market is hosting a "Dash for Trash" event at 9 a.m. Saturday and an "After Trash" party from 2 to 4 p.m. to help clean up the community. The Spenard Market is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Spenard Road in the Chilkoot Charlie's parking lot.
At the Anchorage Farmers Market expect fresh seafood from Prince William Sound. Rebecca Langton of Fee's Custom Seafood reported Tuesday morning that "we are out fishing as we speak. We'll have fresh spot prawns and coonstripe shrimp for Saturday."
One of the market mainstays, Arctic Organics, will be at the market with early- season greens from the greenhouse, including basil and arugula. Other highlights include vegetable and flower seedlings perfect for Alaska growing conditions, including tomatoes.
The Persistent Farmer will be on hand with Matanuska Creamery Products, including birch ice cream, along with his dahlias, tomato plants and ferns.
Other vendors include Bushes Bunches, Seldovitch Farm, Floriponics, Arctic Sun Gardening perennials and Turkey Red Cafe baked goods.
The South Anchorage Farmers Market has a full slate of vendors and will be hosting a purple plant give-away, sponsored by Northrim Bank. The annual Purple Plant Contest is Aug. 18, and at Saturday's market visitors can pick up a purple plant start to nurse throughout the summer.
Vendors scheduled to be at the market include:
Heart of the Mountain Organics will have vegetable and herb starter plants. Those folks recommend stopping in early for cilantro, basil or arugula plants. Other items include lettuce, tomatoes, kale, collards, chard, Brussels sprouts, perennial chives and black currant bushes.
Alaska Sprouts will have fresh tofu, mung bean sprouts, clover sprouts, sunflower shoots, pea shoots and other items.
Southfork will have heirloom tomato plants, along with cucumber and other veggie starts.
Other vendors include: The Blue Poppy, Earthworks Farm, Arctic Choice Seafood, Gray Owl Farm, Mat-Valley Meats, Berberich's jellies and jams, Northern Lights Mushrooms and Glacier Valley Farm.
The Center Market will have two outdoor markets this week -- Wednesday and Friday -- at The Mall at Sears.
Duane Clark said in addition to regular vendors this week, the Shriners will also be on hand Wednesday with their annual Vidalia onion sale. "Stock up on those sweet onions from Georgia, they go great on grass-fed beef burger patties that are back in stock," Clark says.
Clark will have his beef cuts, Alaska seafood and goat cheese. Alex Davis' A.D. Farm will have fresh chicken and duck eggs along with some of last year's storage crops, including purple and white carrots, along with beets and potatoes. He also will have locally raised pork, including chops, steaks, roasts, hocks, Italian sausage, spicy sausage and breakfast sausage patties.
Other vendors at the markets this week include Capriccio Specialties with spices, teas and baking essentials; Sleeping Lady Alaskan Foods with breads from the House of Bread; and Northern Lights Mushrooms.
Copper River salmon
Dannon Southall of 10th and M Seafoods has this report of an Alaska tradition: "The Copper River is set to open this Thursday at 7 a.m. As always, there is no pricing available until the nets slap the water on Thursday morning. With the first opener scheduled for 12 hours, fish should be in Anchorage sometime on Friday, more than likely in the afternoon."
10th & M Seafoods has cleaned and gutted 10- to 20-pound halibut available for $10.50 per pound or $18.95 per pound for fillets. Gulf of Alaska fresh cod ($5.95 per pound) and rockfish ($9.95 per pound) fillets are in the store this week too, along with live clams at $6.95 per pound and live oysters at $12.95 per pound.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at email@example.com.
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 AT THE CORNER OF OLD SEWARD HIGHWAY AND O'MALLEY ROAD; SPENARD FARMERS MARKET, 9 A.M. TO 2 P.M., SPENARD ROAD AND 26TH AVENUE
SUNDAY: ANCHORAGE MARKET AND FESTIVAL, 10 A.M. TO 6 P.M., THIRD AVENUE BETWEEN C AND E STREETS