Low temperatures in May have crops growing slowly

Steve Edwards

Things are a bit up and down for area farmers right now.

"The fact is, (the crops) haven't grown as they would normally have, thanks to the cold weather this May," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "We're less certain than usual about the crops we'll have at market this weekend. We will have basil and potatoes. Other possibilities are pac choi, lettuce, mizuna ... We're in between the last of the greenhouse arugula and the field-seeded arugula."

And Mark Rempel of the Rempel Family Farms says: "It is pouring rain and I wonder, 'Should I call and let my field team have a day off?' The procedure on a wet day is to carry a bucket with you to put weeds in because they won't die if we lay them on wet ground, and then we get to try to kill them again at a later date. This bucket weeding is not a favorite pastime for anyone that I know. The problem is that the weeds still grow on wet days and we don't really know how many days of it there will be. Thus, one of the many exciting dilemmas of farming."

But over at the Center Market, which will be open Wednesday and Saturday, they have a "great supply of eggs this week," says Duane Clark.

The markets will be busy, but they may not everything shoppers would normally expect in the middle of June.

Arctic Organics will have the items Bean mentioned at the Anchorage Farmers Market and will also have some additional vegetable and flower seedlings, some hanging baskets (nasturtium, herb, mixed flower and petunia hanging), fertilizer blends and apple trees. "The apple trees are blooming! And blossoms mean the trees will bear apples this year," Bean says.

The Spenard Farmers Market is celebrating Kid's Day on Saturday with the Children's Lunchbox Program on hand, along with games for the kids, balloons and other items. Market organizers encourage guests to bring nonperishable food items to donate to the Lunchbox program.

Vendors include Chugach Farms with fresh greens, kombucha, eggs and homemade gluten-free bread; Frank Wendling with poppies, chocolate lilies and other perennials; Red Edge Designs with fresh greens and vegetable starts; Sexton Farms with gourmet jellies and preserves; and plenty of food vendors.

The Center Market will include Country Health Foods with Alaska beef and seafood, along with goat cheese and flowers and herbs from Mile 5.2 Greenhouse. Alex Davis' pork products, chicken and duck eggs, along with parsnips and potatoes will also be available. Other vendors include Sleeping Lady Alaskan Foods and Northern Lights Mushrooms.

As always, there is plenty going on at the South Anchorage Farmers Market.

Despite the rain, the Rempel Family Farm will be at the market with arugula, rhubarb, kale, spinach, tatsoi, mizuna, salad mix, parsnips, three kinds of potatoes and baby Snow Apple turnips in bunches.

Tom and Trish Lee of Heart of the Mountain Organics will be making their last visit to the market this year with vegetable, flower and herb starts. Some of their starts include lettuce, cilantro, Thai basil, arugula, thyme, kale, black currant bushes and white fireweed.

Gray Owl Farm will only be at the market through the end of June, so move quickly to get some of their unusual plants. They also have 100 percent nugget bluegrass sod available and they are available for installations and free estimates.

Rise and Shine Bakery's bread offerings this week include spent grain, levain and flax seed pan loaves, along with fruited almond and onion rye hearth loaves. The onion rye might be surprising. "Even if you think you don't like rye bread, try it first," says Alison Arians. "It might be the caraway seeds in most commercial rye breads that you don't like, or the sour flavor of some American-style rye. With this bread, you'll be able to discover what rye actually tastes like -- it has a subtle grassy sweetness and a lovely cakey texture that is perfectly complemented by the onions."

Arctic Choice Seafood will be showing off a wonderful display of Alaska seafood options, including fresh Copper River sockeye fillets, Seldovia Point sockeye fillets, king salmon fillets, halibut, sablefish, rockfish, cod, side-stripe shrimp, oysters from Glacier Point, scallops and the list goes on.

Other vendors will be offering flowers, jams, jellies, sprouts and tofu, locally produced meats, eggs, broiler chickens, soaps, kettle corn and other food items.

From the sea

Dannon Southall says it's "crazy in the seafood world ... salmon is the name of the game now."

10th & M Seafoods has fresh Copper River king salmon fillets for $25.95 per pound and head-off fish for $18.95 per pound. They also have Southeast troll kings for $18.95 per pound for fillets and $14.95 per pound for head-on fish, with a large selection of white kings.

Sockeye salmon from fisheries other than the Copper River are starting to show up. Those reds are $9.95 per pound for fillets and $6.95 per pound for headed and cleaned fish. Halibut is also available, along with fresh razor clam meat from the west side of Cook Inlet. The 1-pound package of clam meat is $12.95.

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

Wednesday: Center Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; 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

Daily News correspondent