The bustling farmers markets keep getting busier.
At the South Anchorage Farmers Market, market organizer Arthur Keyes of Glacier Valley Farm expects five new vendors this week: Rise & Shine Bakery; the Rempel Family Farm; Green Winter Farm, which Keyes describes as "everything basil"; Three Bears Farm; and Lavish Me Soap with Alaska-made soap products.
Mark Rempel of Rempel Family Farm is keeping it simple, he says: "The greens are in!"
Included in his farm's greens haul is organic arugula, rhubarb, kale, spinach, tatsoi, mizuna and a salad mix. They also will have parsnips and three kinds of potatoes.
The folks at Rise & Shine Bakery are back at the market with five varieties of bread. They have been baking bread for the market since July 2007 and are excited to be back for another season.
"It's always exciting to get back to the farmers market," says Alison Arians, co-owner with her husband. "We are really looking forward to seeing our customers again. To us, it feels like summer as soon as the farmers are bringing some fresh produce to the market!
"In the wintertime, we bake to fill orders that are placed on our website. But in the summertime, we bake a lot of bread and bring it all to the market on Saturdays. It's first-come, first-served. See you at the market!"
This week's sourdough breads include: kalamata olive and fresh rosemary savory hearth loaves, a fruited almond hearth loaf, and two 100 percent whole grain pan loaves -- Alaska potato and spent grain. Arians describes the spent grain this way: "packed with barley groats used by Midnight Sun Brewing Company to brew their beer. The barley gives the bread a nice chewy texture and a moist crumb. Kids especially love this bread, because with just a touch of honey, it's a little less sour than the potato loaves."
Other vendors this week at the South Market include many in the plants and flowers category (the Blue Poppy, Earthworks Farms, Heart of the Mountain Organics, Gray Owl Farm, Country Garden Farms and Glacier Valley Farm); several in the food category (Joan's Jellies, Alaska Sprouts, Alaska Hens, Berberich's Juice Jelly and Jams, Northern Lights Mushrooms, Non-Essentials, Mat-Valley Meats, Arctic Choice Seafoods and French Oven Bakery); and some with food ready to eat (Los Tacos, Pinky's Kettle Corn and Mae's Sweet Natural Treats).
The market also will host its jar recycling event. If customers have leftover glass jars stockpiled around the house, Keyes says bring them to the market and drop them off at the "Juice, Jelly and Jam" booth.
The Center Market has vendors lined up for both Wednesday and Saturday markets. The Saturday market will feature Duane Clark of Country Health Foods with his cuts of Alaska grass-fed beef along with Alex Davis' pork products, fresh eggs and produce. Davis estimates he'll have 70 dozen chicken eggs and 40 dozen duck eggs. He'll also have carrots, beets, parsnips and potatoes, along with some potted plants, including willow and rhubarb. Saturday's market will also have Matanuska Creamery with fresh cheese curds, block cheese and ice cream
The Wednesday market will feature Northern Lights Mushrooms, Sleeping Lady Alaskan Food, Country Health Foods and A.D. Farm.
Davis says the spring and early summer are starting off well.
"Plantings are going well, actually the smoothest since I started to farm eight years ago," he says. "Now if the weather would cooperate we might get some growth out of the field yet."
The Spenard Farmers Market has a wide selection of options. Some of the highlights include: quail eggs from Skeeter Farm; P&M Gardens with Alaska grown plants and veggie starts; Matanuska Creamery with cheese and ice cream; Chugach Farm with homemade goodies, including pesto, apple butter, fresh greens and other early-season crops; Red Beet Bistro with English muffins, fresh raw juice and gluten-free baked goods; Denali Dreams Soap Co. with Alaska-made soaps and salves; and Mobile Mending, which offers quick sewing options.
At the Anchorage Farmers Market, the Persistent Farmer will be on hand with his last selection of native ferns that are good for landscaping in shaded areas. He also will have a few large dahlia starts. He'll also have Matanuska Creamery products with him, including first of the season fresh pepper jack cheese.
Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics says their market highlights continue to be fresh arugula and basil. Other items include vegetable and flower seedlings, along with Alaska-hardy apple trees, hanging baskets (nasturtium, herb, mixed flower and petunia) and fertilizer blends.
Other vendors scheduled for the market include Bushes Bunches, Seldovitsch Farm, Floriponics, Arctic Sun Gardening perennials, ACAT compost tea, Fee's Custom Seafood and Turkey Red Cafe baked goods.
From the sea
The record salmon run on the Copper River continues to yield loads of fish at various shops.
"What a great time of year for fresh Alaskan seafood," says Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods. "The Copper River is having a record run which is very positive. The number of fish has tapered off from the blockbuster fishing at the beginning of the season. There are some other areas of the state starting to produce to give us more options of fresh sockeye salmon."
Southall says 10th & M will have sockeye salmon available this week for $9.95 per pound for fillets and $6.95/pound for headed and cleaned fish that average about 5 pounds per fish. Troll king salmon from Southeast will be available for $18.85/pound for fillets and $14.95/pound for head-on fish.
The halibut fisherman are still producing, and 10th & M has headed and cleaned halibut in the 10- to 20-pound range for $10.95/pound, while the fillets are $18.95/pound.
"One of the tastiest parts of the halibut is the succulent cheeks. These medallion-size gems are perfect sauteed in a pan with garlic and butter then spread over a layer of rice. We will have fresh cheeks all week for everyone to enjoy," Southall says.
Gulf of Alaska cod ($5.95/pound) and rockfish ($9.95/pound) fillets are in the store, along with Prince William Sound side-stripe shrimp ($11.95/pound) and Southeast live Alaska oysters.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local farmers markets
WEDNESDAY: CENTER MARKET, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M., THE MALL AT SEARS, BENSON BOULEVARD AND DENALI STREET; WASILLA FARMERS MARKET, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M., BEHIND THE WASILLA PUBLIC LIBRARY
FRIDAY: PALMER FRIDAY FLING, 10 A.M. TO 5 P.M. AT THE PAVILION ACROSS FROM VISITOR'S CENTER
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