The outdoor farmers markets won't open for several weeks, but don't let that get you down.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service is ready to help would-be market vendors get ready for the upcoming season. And more market vendors is good news for market-goers too.
The Anchorage office of the Cooperative Extension Service is hosting three "Keep it Local: Getting Ready for Your Local Market" workshops in April. The free classes are April 13, 20 and 27.
The first workshop is basic business concepts. It will be taught be Dar Johnson from the YWCA Women's Economic Empowerment Center. She has experience as a craft vendor as well as regularly teaching the business basics courses for the YWCA.
The second workshop will be taught by Julie Riley on Urban Gardening for selling at the market. Riley is the Anchorage horticulturist and has been working with the International Gardeners at the farmers markets. She will be focusing on what are good crops to grow to sell at the market.
The third workshop will be taught by Marianne Kerr on merchandising and displaying goods. Kerr's workshop will highlight how to create a display area on any budget.
"We haven't done these workshops before," says Lisa Wedin of the Cooperative Extension Service. "This is a pilot project. The first and last workshops would be useful to a variety of market booths from farmers to crafts to foods. The overall goal is to give market vendors the skills they need to be successful.
"If all goes well we will do more either this summer/fall or next spring. I am hoping to get feedback from the vendors on what other workshops might be helpful. I have all sorts of ideas."
The classes are 1-3 p.m. at the Anchorage Cooperative Extension Series office, 1675 C St., Suite 100. To register, call 786-6300 or visit www.uaf.edu/ces/districts/anchorage.
While most markets are still in hibernation, the year-round Center Market at The Mall at Sears is still going full speed.
Regular vendors will set up again from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm will be on hand with his regular supply of pork products, fresh eggs, storage vegetables and barley flour and cereal.
Davis says things have been a little tricky at the farm lately.
"We have been experiencing some production problems with our egg numbers," he says. "This week we will have about 20 dozen chicken eggs and (less than a dozen) goose eggs. Now the goose eggs are only available in the spring, so if you are looking to do some painting on a shell or would like to make a one-egg omelet you can come by for a goose egg.
"I am also looking for interest in 40-pound meat boxes. I have a lot of pork in the freezer and would like to put it in yours; I'm looking at putting together about 10 boxes so you may want to reserve one soon."
Contact Davis at the market or at www.adfarmorganic.com.
Country Health Foods will have its Alaska honey, seafood, grass-fed beef and free-range duck. Earthworks Farm will have honey and beeswax lotions. Alaska Sprouts products, including sprouts and fresh basil, will also be at the market. SJ Klein of Alaska Sprouts says: "We changed our romaine production to try to meet the demand at the Wednesday market, and had some issues with it these past few weeks. We're sending oodles of lettuce to the Sears Mall this week. We've also got arugula microgreens -- they're fragile but amazingly nutty and peppery."
The Rempel Family Farm will have red and Chioggia beets; daikon radish; stripetti squash; and nine kinds of potatoes.
Hearty salmon chowder Spenard
This is a hearty but mild-flavored salmon chowder that is a great way to use a piece of salmon that might be too small for a full meal. Tastes great served in a mug with a slice of buttered sourdough bread.
1/2 pound Alaska Grown Potatoes
1/2 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips
2 bunches chopped green onions
1 cup of corn
3 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 cup celery
1 cup diced red pepper
1 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 (11/2-pound) piece Alaska salmon fillet, skin discarded and fish cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Garnish: green onions or dill
w Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes; cook in a 1- to 11/2-quart heavy saucepan of boiling salted water until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and set aside.
w Cook bacon in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot, next cook scallions, corn, garlic, dill weed, celery, diced red pepper, and red-pepper flakes in fat in pot over low heat, stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Add milk and cream and bring to a slight boil.
w Reduce heat to moderately low, add potatoes, salmon, bacon, salt and pepper and cook, gently stirring occasionally, until salmon is just cooked through and begins to break up as you stir, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Pour into your favorite MUG, garnish with dill or green onions and serve.
Source: Cindy Shake, Community and Media Relations Volunteer, Spenard Farmers Market
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.