Fall pickin' party planned at Pyrah's Pioneer Peak

Steve Edwards

You know it's coming. Maybe you've seen the first signs of snow in the mountains. You feel the chill in the air.

Alaska's brief autumn season is upon us, and after that it's winter. But now is the time to enjoy harvest season; and there's plenty to enjoy.

If you haven't had the chance to pick your own produce at Pyrah's Pioneer Peak farm in the Butte, this weekend is the time. The farm is hosting its annual Fall Harvest Festival from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. Katie Pyrah says it's the family's way of saying thanks to all its supporters. It's geared mostly toward younger children, but there is something for everyone with games, prizes, hayrides, a bonfire and food. Entertainment includes the Air Force Jazz Band Ensemble and the Carhartt Brothers.

Admission is $5 or $15 for a family of four, with $3 for each additional family member. The admission covers everything but the food. And there is still plenty to pick in the fields, but call ahead if you want to know about specific produce (907-745-4511).

If you can't make it to the festival, stop by one of the markets still operating in Anchorage or the surrounding areas this week. Farmers report some unexpected produce still growing well.

"Still no frost," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "We actually have plants completing their life cycle that don't usually get the chance, like zucchini.

"We have loved the warm, sunny summer but are now realizing the drawback to having had very little rain. The potatoes really haven't sized up much. So we are holding back on the harvest, hoping for fall rains and a little more growth."

This week at the Saturday Anchorage Farmers Market on 15th Avenue and Cordova Street, expect plenty of vegetables including rutabaga, carrots, beets with greens, cauliflower, onions, shelled peas, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, purple top turnips, green and red cabbage, scallions and radishes. There will be lots of greens including mizuna, collards, mustard greens, rainbow chard, radicchio, arugula, tat soi, sorrel and nasturtium blossoms. And don't forget the herbs like dill, cilantro, Genovese basil, marjoram, thyme, parsley, lemon basil sage and others.

Additional items at the market include Copper River salmon, fresh rustic breads and baked goods, local dairy products including cheddar cheese, cheese curds and ice cream.

There are still plenty of vendors at the Saturday South Anchorage Farmers Market. This week expect to find:

• Glacier Valley Farm will have lots of zucchini, carrots, cabbage, and as long as the frost holds off, strawberries. Tomatoes are available as well as garlic.

• VanderWeele Farms will also have celery, carrots, beets, broccoli, Yukon Gold potatoes, jumbo yellow onions, radishes, red and green cabbage and cauliflower. They also have many lettuce varieties.

• Stockwell Farms has a great selection of new potatoes -- red bliss, German butterballs, Yukon Golds, and lots of others. Other items include green beans, onions and zucchini.

• Arctic Choice will have a great selection of Alaska seafood to enjoy, including fresh halibut, rockfish, cod and coho salmon. Also available will be frozen red king crab legs.

• Kenley's Vegetables and Flowers will have cut flowers and flowering kale and cabbage, which make excellent centerpieces on the table.

• Rise & Shine Bakery will have leavain, golden maize, toasted walnut, fruited almond and Alaskan onion rye breads.

• The Rempel Family Farm will have sugar pumpkins, spaghetti squash, stripetti squash, buttercup squash, sweet celery and at least eight kinds of potatoes, along with carrots, leeks and snow apple turnips. They will also be the Northway Mall market today.

• The Red Beet will be back at the market now that the Alaska State Fair is over. They will have wild seed breads featuring dock, cow parsnip and wormwood. Also available is wormwood date dressing, beet-raspberry dressing, fresh bison market pies and fresh cherry pies.

Summer may be winding down but the vendors aren't, so stock up while you can. Before you know it, you'll be waxing the skis and fresh Alaska produce will be a memory.

Visit the markets

Here is a list of local markets:

Daily: Butte Farmers Market, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, Mile 12 Old Glenn Highway.

Wednesday: South Anchorage Farmers Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., south side of the Dimond Center; Wednesday Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Northway Mall parking lot; Wasilla Farmers Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., behind the Wasilla Public Library.

Friday: Friday Fling, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., pavilion across from the Visitor's Center in Palmer.

Saturday: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., 15th Avenue and Cordova 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; 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., University Center Mall; Eagle River Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Business Boulevard and Old Glenn Highway.

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., Eagle River VFW Post parking lot.

Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. If you have a suggestion for a future Market Fresh column, please contact him at sedwards@adn.com.

Farmers markets statewide
Website: Alaska Grown
Daily News correspondent