It would be an understatement to say that everyone is ready for spring to, well, sprout.
Regardless, farmers markets are opening, and the true onset of spring -- the Copper River salmon opening -- is happening this week.
Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods is ready for the salmon.
"The starting pistol is loaded with anticipation leading up to the start of the Copper River fishery on Thursday," he said. "Fisherman will be allowed to chase the first-of-the-year sockeye salmon as well as a few king salmon. I am hoping to have fish in our stores late Friday -- more than likely Saturday for sales.
"As always, there is not pricing available until the first fish hits the docks sometime Thursday. We will have both headed and gutted fish as well as fillets in house."
Southall says there are plenty of other fresh Alaska seafood options for those not ready for the salmon.
Fresh black cod (sablefish) and halibut have been appearing regularly in the store. Black cod fillets are $15.95 per pound.
"At the end of the week, we should see our deliveries of fresh shrimp from Prince William Sound," he says. "Fresh side stripes will be available on Friday for $10.95 per pound and please call ahead to check on spots (shrimp)."
Spenard Farmers Market opens
"It's here, it's here, it's finally here -- opening day at the Spenard Farmers Market," says Cindy Shake, the market's community and media relations volunteer. "Lots of conversations with our experienced farmers and growers that have all been saying the same thing -- the season is off to an unseasonably chilly start!
"Despite the delay in being able to plant, vendors with greenhouses are able to provide hearty and abundant plant starts and even some greens!"
Among the vendors for the sold-out market: Woolwood Gardens with hearty plant starts; Chugach Farms of Chickaloon with medicinal and herb vinegar, apple butter, Kombucha and hand crafted local salves; Denali Dreams, a Spenard business, with hand crafted soaps and body oils; new vendor Ten Hens Farm with fresh chicken eggs and vegetable starts including a greens mix and seven types of tomato start; Glacier City Gardner's Robbie Frankevich will have begonia and impatients hanging baskets, Primula veris that have been in the pot all winter and other Primula seedlings; Glacier will have fresh Prince William Sound spot shrimp; Susan's Berry Patch will have certified Alaska-grown seed potatoes, along with strawberry plants and a variety of vegetable and herb starts; and Foundroot Seed will have 100 percent open-pollinated seed from a sustainable homestead supply company who fosters a community of seed-savers, gardeners, and homesteaders who work harmoniously with their local ecology.
The Spenard Farmers Market is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the corner of Spenard Road and 26th Avenue in the Chilkoot Charlie's parking lot.
• Anchorage Farmers Market (9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, 15th Avenue and Cordova Street): Several vendors are lined up for the second Anchorage Farmers Market of the season. The lineup includes Bushes Bunches, Arctic Organics, Persistent Farmer, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Fee's Seafood, Turkey Red baked goods and ACAT compost tea.
Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the market organizer says it's been a challenge getting things going on the farm this season.
"Twenty four degrees this morning," she says of the early morning chill on Tuesday. "The forecast in Palmer was for 32, which actually would be workable. We are still waiting for the field to warm up/dry up enough to plant.
"It's looking as if we will be at least two weeks late getting seeds into the field. Good thing for the greenhouses and cold frames! We are re-thinking the planting in those warm structures in an attempt to ensure more early greens for the market."
And Bean says despite the cold weather, there will be greens available Saturday, including arugula, basil and a few lettuces. Potatoes will also be available, along with vegetable and flower seedlings, hanging baskets and fertilizer blends.
Rob Wells, The Persistent Farmer, will be back at the market with dahlia starts, tomato starts, beddings plants and seed potatoes.
• South Anchorage Farmers Market (9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Subway/Cellular One Sports Center): Among the many vendors at the South Anchorage Farmers Market will be Arctic Choice, with a large selection of fresh Alaska fish and shellfish, including first-of-the-year fresh Copper River sockeyes.
Other options include troll caught king salmon, halibut, cod, rockfish, sablefish sidestripe shrimp, spot shrimp, scallops and oysters in the shell.
• Center Market (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Mall at Sears): The year-round market continues and as Alex Davis says, "we are open for business as we always are."
Davis will have about 70 dozen fresh chicken and duck eggs, along with whole barley, barley flour and barley cereal. He will have a large selection of pork products, including chops, roast, breakfast sausage patties and other sausages, along with a few remaining storage crops.
Country Health Foods will have grass-fed beef, free range ducks (the new chicks won't be available until about July), Alaska honey and seafood. Earthworks Farm will have beeswax and honey skin products, while sprouts and lettuces from Alaska Sprouts will also be at the 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.