Sure, it's gray and rainy out now, but remember last week? The plants sure do.
"The heat wave of last week certainly made a difference in crop maturation," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "By the end of the week we had more ready for harvest than I predicted we would; some things seemed to have doubled in size in one week.
"We are certainly experiencing bumper crops in our weekly seeded items, meaning they really did just sit in the field and wait for warm weather before deciding to grow. In some cases three weeks' worth of succession planting are ready all at once!"
Says Arthur Keyes of Glacier Valley Farm and the South Anchorage Farmers Market: "This recent hot weather has turned everything around here at the farm. On Friday we had our first picking of strawberries from the field and they were fantastic!"
Arctic Organics expects to have potatoes from last year at the Anchorage Farmers Market, along with fresh spinach, tat soi, radishes, kale, pac choi, lettuce, mizuna, arugula, scallions, greens mix, radishes, basil, lovage and chives and "if we're lucky, more surprises," Bean says.
Other vendors include Bushes Bunches, Seldovitsch Farm, Persistent Farmer, Matanuska Creamery, Floriponics, Arctic Sun Gardening perennials, ACAT compost tea, Fee's Custom Seafoods and Turkey Red Cafe baked goods.
The South Anchorage Market will be full with vendors and Keyes says to arrive early for the strawberries.
"We had 35 pounds for sale on Saturday and they sold out very quickly, so if you want fresh berries this weekend come to the market early, we will have them," he says. "Also the zucchini is looking great there is a possibility that we will also have zucchini on Saturday; keeping our fingers crossed!"
Loads of other vendors will be on hand, including Arctic Choice with more fresh Alaska seafood, including fresh king and sockeye salmon fillets, halibut, sablefish, side-stripe and spot shrimp, oysters in the shell from Glacier Point, scallops, razor clam meat and salmon caviar.
Gardeners can still have plenty of options with the Blue Poppy and Gray Owl Farm, while those looking to load up on early season produce can stop in at booths by Rempel Family Farm, VanderWeele Farm, Alaska Sprouts or Northern Lights Mushrooms. Other vendors will have jams and jellies, cut flowers, locally grown and processed meats, kettle corn, Alaska-made soaps and bread and pastry products, including Rise & Shine Bakery with a 100 percent whole wheat toasted seed bread, fresh rosemary, fruited almond, spent grain and Alaskan potato. Rise & Shine won't be at the July 7 market, so stock up this weekend.
At the Center Market, expect to see chicken and duck eggs, pork products, raspberry jam, Alaska grass-fed beef cuts, herbs and flowers from Mile 5.2 Greenhouse, a variety of mushroom options from Northern Lights Mushrooms and House of Bread products.
Duane Clark says the market will not be open July 4, so plan ahead. "The egg production will not take a holiday, so Saturdays June 30 and July 7 will be a great day to catch the market to get eggs," Clark says.
Veggies are really starting to pop up at the Spenard Farmers Market this week. The market is also highlighting "bike or bus to market day," encouraging alternative forms of transportation.
Veggie-growers scheduled to be at the market include Spring Creek Farm, Sexton Farm, Grass Roots, Chugach Farm and Ba-lescas Brothers. Vegetables available will include beets, parsnips, cucumbers, zucchini, chives, radishes, rhubarb and tomatoes.
Other vendors include Marshmelanies with gourmet marshmallows, Organic Oasis for soup and baked goods, Skeeter Farm with quail eggs and Matanuska Creamery with fresh cheeses and ice cream.
Opening Wednesday is the Northway Mall Wednesday Farmers Market. Bill Webb from Webb's Consulting and Management Services, which runs the market and the downtown Anchorage Market and Festival, says to expect a growing number of vendors.
"Dinkel, Rempel, Stockwell, International Gardens and some new farmers will be participating this season, our 12th season at Northway Mall," Webb says. "We are also expecting Yukon Concession to have their halibut and chips with corn fritters and honey butter at market. Other vendors will be added later."
Mark Rempel of Rempel Family Farm says they'll be bringing arugula, rhubarb, kale, spinach, tat soi, mizuna, bok choi, salad mix, parsnips, three kinds of potatoes, snow apple turnips in bunches, cilantro, chard and beet greens.
The market is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 3.
From the sea
Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods in Anchorage reports that "we are in the middle of a lot of wonder fresh Alaskan seafood. The highlight this week is fresh king salmon."
He says 10th & M has both red and white kings to choose from; they are $10.95 per pound for a headed and cleaned fish and $13.95/pound for fillets. Sockeye salmon are also starting "to come in hot and heavy," with headed and gutted fish going for $6.50/pound.
Throw one on the grill ... rain or shine!
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at email@example.com.
Farmers markets WEDNESDAY: CENTER MARKET, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M., THE MALL AT SEARS, BENSON BOULEVARD AND DENALI STREET; NORTHWAY MALL WEDNESDAY FARMERS MARKET, NORTHWAY MALL PARKING LOT, 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M.; 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