Is this the perfect summer?
It might be for farmers.
"Sun, rain and love is what every garden needs, and our farmers and growers have had all three ingredients as evident by the piles of produce that is starting to appear on vendor tables," says Cindy Shake, Spenard Farmers Market community and media relations volunteer.
For Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market, there is one overriding theme so far this summer: "Think salad! We have abundant salad greens, including new crops of tender and succulent butter lettuce, tat soi, collards and mibuna."
The markets are really bursting now. Here is a sample of what to expect.
Spenard Farmers Market
This week, it's sustainable and recycle day at the market.
Bring used, unbroken compact fluorescent bulbs to the Information Booth for free recycling. Representatives from Alaska Power Association, Municipal Light & Power and Chugach Electric Cooperative will be on hand with energy conservation information, displays and even an operating electric meter showing the difference in power used for various types of light bulbs.
Vendor highlights from the market include:
• Chugach Farms will have sweet mixed greens, arugula, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, herb vinegars and pesto kombucha.
• Wild Rose Alaska Natural Harvests will have a large variety of items. Shake says Wild Rose "has been selling out of her tasty mustards, honey and rubs, so shop early." This week there will be raspberry sauces and jams, along with a kumquat relish.
• Brown Dog Farm will have gallon bags of rinsed spring mix, bundles of spinach, arugula and head lettuce.
• Ba-Lescas Brothers are harvesting huge gourmet onions (red, yellow, sweet, green), plump and sweet rose radishes, mustard green blossoms, Swiss chard and bok choy "that are great for not only soups and salads but are so sweet you can eat them right from the garden," Shake says.
Anchorage Farmers Market
In addition to "thinking salad," Bean says there is plenty of basil ready for the market too -- and that means pesto!
"The leaves are huge, dark green, sweet and tender," she says. She encourages those who really do want to stock up to pre-order for quantities of 10 or more bunches. Call 907-746-1087.
Other Arctic Organics items this week include leaf, romaine and red oakleaf lettuces; spinach and baby spinach; kale by the bunch and baby kale by the pound; greens mix; arugula; and radishes.
Other vendors include Bushes Bunches, Persistent Farmer, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Fee's Seafood, Turkey Red baked goods, ACAT compost tea and Magpie Sue @ the Market, serving breakfasts and lunches prepared with fresh farm produce.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
Expect two new vendors at Saturday's market -- Stockwell Farm and Northern Lights Mushrooms -- and plenty of the regulars back for another.
Vendor highlights include:
• Gray Owl Farm will be at its last market of the season. Some plants, including succulents and coleus, will be available in a 2-for-1 special. They also have a few mints and sages, and will offer citronella and rose scented geraniums, which Kathy Baker says "make great houseplants." Several perennials in gallon pots will be available, including bleeding heart, Johnson's blue geranium, meadow rue, delphinium, columbine and baby's breath.
• Rempel Family Farm will have arugula, chard, tatsoi, mizuna, green mustard, salad mix, spinach, radishes, cress, kales, rhubarb, mint, small snow apple turnips and about seven varieties of last fall's potatoes. (They will also be at Wednesday's Northway Mall market.)
• Arctic Choice will have fresh sockeye salmon, king salmon, halibut, cod, rockfish and sablefish, all in different forms such as whole, fillets, cheeks and stuffed. Featured this week is rockfish and sablefish marinated in miso sauces and ready to cook.
• Among the returning vendors are: Glacier Valley Farm, Non-essentials, South Fork Jams and Jellies, Alaska Sprouts, Mat Valley Meats, Earthworks Farm, Three Bears Jams and Jellies, and the Blue Poppy
Spenard shrimp ceviche
Note: The Alaska shrimp are marinated in lime juice, chopped and then tossed with tomatoes, peppers, celery and avocado for a zesty appetizer. Serve as a dip with tortilla chips or as a topping on a tostada spread with mayo.
1 pound peeled and deveined medium Prince William Sound spot shrimp
1 cup fresh lime juice
10 plum tomatoes, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup diced green or red bell pepper
2 avocados, diced (optional)
2 ribs celery, diced (optional)
1 teaspoon Dill
Fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste
Place shrimp in a glass bowl and cover with lime juice to marinate (or 'cook') for about 10 minutes, or until they turn pink and opaque. Meanwhile, place the plum tomatoes, onion and jalapeno (and avocados and celery, if using) in a large, non-reactive (stainless steel, glass or plastic) bowl.
Remove shrimp from lime juice, reserving juice. Dice shrimp and add to the bowl of vegetables. Pour in the remaining lime juice marinade. Add cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to mix.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Farmers Markets
Tuesday: Eagle River Farmers Market, 3-7 P.M., VFW post parking lot
Wednesday: Center Market, 11 A.M. To 6 P.M., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Northway Mall Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Northway Mall; Wasilla Farmers Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Behind the Wasilla Public Library
Thursday: Peters Creek Farmers Market &Amp; 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
By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent