Visit one of the area farmers' markets and no doubt you'll chat with sweaty but smiling farmers.
"The produce is rolling in now! This heat wave has sped up the ordinarily fast plant growth around solstice by leaps and bounds," said Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market.
"Things are really popping down in the field, the veggies and the weeds," said Alex Davis of A.D. Farm and the Center Market.
"How about this sunshine?" asked Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market community and media relations volunteer. "We were saying at the market on Saturday what a difference a couple of years makes when every Saturday was raining, and now this! No doubt that our farmer/growers, vendors and customers all thrive on sunshine. We had record traffic on Saturday and the lettuce, spinach, radishes, chives and greens are starting to show up on vendor tables."
The Spenard Farmers Market is celebrating International Day on Saturday.
"Celebrate the Alaska summer solstice while being able to experience the international cuisine and culturally rich food and crafts at the market, or by creating it yourself with ingredients from under the windmill," Shake said.
Some of the vendors lined up for this week include: Brown Dog Farm will have radishes and head lettuce; Wildrose has artisan herbal honey, wild berry mustards, spicy pepper and berry sauces that are a perfect to pair with any barbecue; the AK Flower Lady will have her prize-winning delphiniums, dahlias and strawberries for northern gardens; Adina's Acres will return with German thyme, fast-season squash (including zephyr), king of the north sweet bell peppers and matchbox hot peppers. To highlight the international flavor of the market, try Grandma's Old Kitchen, with traditional Russian food like pelmini and piroshky; Asian fusion cuisine by Urban Bamboo; and traditional "conchas," Mexican sweet bread, sold by Ba-Lesca Brothers, a husband and wife vendor team from Oaxaca. (Sticking with the international theme, check out the recipe below.)
Over at the South Anchorage Farmers Market, Rise & Shine Bakery is making is initial appearance of the season. Available this week at the market are levain and spent grain pan loaves along with toasted seed, kalamata olive and fruited almond hearth loaves.
Arctic Choice will be at the market with a variety of fresh Alaska fish and shellfish. Among the options are: fresh sockeye salmon, king salmon, halibut, cod, rockfish and sablefish, all in different forms such as whole, fillets, cheeks and stuffed. Also available will be side stripe shrimp, spot shrimp, oysters in the shell, scallops and razor clam meat. Southfork will have new varieties of rhubarb jams, along with raspberry, strawberry and blueberry options.
The Anchorage Farmers Market will be hopping again this week. Arctic Organics will have is first crops from the field at Saturday's market on 15th Avenue and Cordova Street. Those options include pac choi, mizuna and kale, along with greens and arugula from the farm's cold frames and basil from the greenhouse.
A few vegetables seedlings remain along with a good selection of hanging baskets and fertilizer blends. The Beans also will bring blooming apple trees, which are hardy for Alaska growing conditions. Varieties include Norland, Oriole, Parkland and Hyers 12 & 20.
Other vendors scheduled this week: Bushes Bunches, Persistent Farmer, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Fee's Seafood, Turkey Red baked goods and ACAT compost tea.
In addition to the market, Arctic Organics greenhouse is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays for plants and potatoes but no produce. The produce stand will be open 5-7 p.m. starting this Friday. The farm is at 1305 N. Smith Road in Palmer.
The indoor Center Market features many of its regular vendors. Alex Davis says to expect "a little salad mix this week" and "the duck eggs should be back in a big way; finally stopped the ravens rom raiding the duck eggs." He expects to have 70 dozen chicken and duck eggs available on Wednesday. Davis also will have potatoes available, along with pork products including sausage, chops and fresh side slab. He will have whole barley, barley flour and barley cereal from Delta.
Alaskan-style Thai spring rolls
One of the best ways to celebrate International Day is to use local ingredients to prepare delicious dishes from around the globe. Spring rolls are great because not only are they healthy, but they are easy to improvise. You can add whatever you have in your early summer garden.
î´ 12 Prince William Sound shrimp, cooked and shelled
î´ 1 cup shredded greens (lettuce, microgreens, sprouts, or whatever you find at the market or in your garden)
î´ 1/3 cup chopped cilantro (or combination of what herbs you have in your garden, basil is a tasty alternative)
î´ 1/2 cup seeded cucumber threads
î´ 1/2 cup carrot threads
î´ Rice paper wrappers
* In a bowl of cool water, soak a wrapper until limp. Lay wrapper out flat.
* Place 1/6 of each ingredient down middle of wrapper, starting with lettuce.
* Fold over each end and tightly roll the wrapper around the contents, as if making a burrito. Moisten at seam; press to close.
* Rolls can be sliced into two pieces. Serve with your favorite Asian dipping sauce like soy sauce, sweet chili sauce or peanut sauce.
Source: Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market community and media relations volunteer
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.
Wednesday: Center Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Wasilla Farmers Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., behind the Wasilla Public Library
Thursday: Peters Creek Farmers Market & Crafts, 3-7 p.m., 21643 Old Glenn Highway
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; 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
Tuesday: Eagle River Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m., VFW Post Parking lotMarket calendar