Unusual weather is changing farmers' fields

Steve Edwards

The recent spell of strange weather -- high winds, frosts, sunny days -- is changing the farmers' fields and what's available at the markets.

"The crops are responding accordingly to this classic autumn weather we've been having," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "In spite of how it's been relatively warm since those few days of killing frost, the summer crops are not growing much and the fall crops are taking their place at market. The potatoes sized up nicely thanks to the rain. Let's hope for the same for the Brussels sprouts and rutabagas!"

The Beans will have plenty of vegetables at this week's Saturday market, including carrots, yellow onions, purple top turnips, three varieties of beets, zucchini, broccoli, daikon, cauliflower, loads of potatoes, green and red cabbage, four varieties of kale, rainbow chard, spinach, sorrel and lettuces, including romaine, leaf, Batavian, lollo rossa, butter and oak leaf. They will also have fresh herbs and apples.

Joining Arctic Organics at the market are Bushes Bunches, Seldovitsch Farm, Persistent Farmer, Matanuska Creamery, Stockwell Farm, VanderWeele Farm, LivinGreen heirloom tomatoes, Vera's Greenhouses, and Turkey Red Cafe baked goods

The Persistent Farmer, Rob Wells, reports that his dahlia blooms are "brightening rooms around the city." They will be available, along with Matanuska Creamery products, at Saturday's Anchorage Farmers Market. He also has the blooms available at Wednesday's Northway Mall Market and Wednesday's Center Market at The Mall at Sears.

Joining Wells at the Northway Mall Market will be several other vendors, including the Rempel Family Farm, which will also have products available at Saturday's South Anchorage Farmers Market.

This week, the Rempels are featuring carrots, cauliflower, beets, shungiku, mizuna, tatsoi, collard greens, green onions, arugula, kale, spinach, tatsoi, mizuna, bok choi, salad mix, turnips, broccoli, daikon radish, chard, beet greens, green cabbage, nine kinds of new potatoes, spaghetti squash and sugar pumpkins.

Also at the South Anchorage market will be Two Sisters' Greenhouse with loads of new potatoes, along with heirloom tomatoes; English cucumbers; fresh basil, dill and tarragon; purple kohlrabi; jams and jellies, including low-sugar varieties; and new this week are pickled beets and carrots.

The Center Market will have many of the regular vendors, including Duane Clark's Country Health Foods and Alex Davis' A.D. Farm.

Clark will have Alaska beef, free-range chicken and duck, king and sockeye salmon, local honey and several varieties of Alaska-grown apples.

Davis will be featuring potatoes, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, beets and Brussels sprouts, along with cuts of Alaska pasture-raised pork, including chops, steaks and sausage. Davis also reminds marketgoers that Wednesday is the last day to suggest names for Davis' two newest members of his farm family -- a pair of pigs that are being flown in from Missouri. Davis says these females are "future breeding stock to help enhance the quality of pork I produce."

Celebrating at UAA

Alaska chef Kirsten Dixon will be the featured chef at the University of Alaska Anchorage's Celebrity Chef Invitational at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lucy Cuddy Hall.

Dixon, co-owner and chef of Within the Wild Adventure Company, will oversee the preparation of a five-course meal with a focus on Alaska ingredients, a special theme in honor of the event's 20th anniversary. Working with 10 UAA culinary alumni and many volunteers to prepare the locavore extravaganza, the menu will feature Alaska seafood, farm-grown vegetables, wild berries and other Alaska specialties.

"This year's event is all about locally grown and Kirsten is Alaska's own locally grown celebrity chef," said Timothy Doebler, UAA assistant professor and program director of culinary arts, hospitality/dietetics and nutrition.

The Celebrity Chef Invitational serves as a fundraiser as well as a showcase of the UAA culinary and hospitality program. Proceeds raised go to the University of Alaska Foundation and provide for scholarships, maintenance of educational, equipment and a state-of-the-art hospitality training center, faculty development and more.

The event is sold out.

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; Northway Mall Wednesday Farmers Market, Northway Mall parking lot, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., behind the Dimond Center; Wasilla Farmers Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., behind the Wasilla Public Library

Saturday: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 15th and Cordova in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot; Center Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Eagle River Farmers Market, in front of Mike's Meats, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Farm Market at the Barn, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Glacier Valley Farm, Glenn Highway and Inner Springer Loop Road; 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

Daily News correspondent