It's National Farmers Market Week.
Nationally, there are more than 8,100 farmers markets, up from about 5,000 in 2008. Celebrate by visiting your favorite market, and maybe add a visit to another this week -- there are plenty of local options.
"We are happy to be participating in the National Farmers Market Week with a full market of vendors," says Cindy Shake, the Spenard Farmers Market's community and media relations volunteer. "Our food vendors will be cooking up hot, fresh menus using locally sourced food. We will be offering free recipe cards to early marketgoers and, as always, plenty of artisans and free music by singer songwriter Michael Howard. Our farmers report with the temperatures starting to cool off a bit, their produce is reaching peak sweetness and size!"
Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market says it's the perfect time to visit a local market. "Much as we are enjoying the break in the weather, i.e. slightly cooler days, we are still reaping the benefits of the month and a half of power growing that we've had. The flowers are spectacular! The leafy greens, beets, carrots are unstoppable. Some of the cool weather loving crops are showing signs of duress, but overall, yields are up. Somehow shoppers have figured that out too. The market has been hopping!"
"Farmers markets are an important public face for agriculture and a critical part of our nation's food system," says USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release. "They provide benefits not only to the farmers looking for important income opportunities, but also help fill a growing consumer demand for fresh, healthy foods."
Here's a summary of what's going on at some of the local Southcentral farmers markets.
Spenard Farmers Market
Look for fresh food from a variety of vendors including Fishalicious, Urban Bamboo, Bistro Red Beet, EAT, Grandma's Kitchen and Organic Oasis. Free recipe cards will be available at the market information booth.
Produce vendors include: Midnight Sun Farm with fresh picked raspberries, Swiss chard, kale and sweet leaf lettuce; Fresh International Gardens will have dinosaur kale, red Russian kale, Siberian kale, broccoli, cilantro and chives; Glacier Valley Farm will have strawberries, fresh Yensis sweet onions and plump tomatoes; P&M Garden and Greenhouse will have English cucumbers and a number of priced-right perennials; Chugach Farm will harvest organic carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, peas, turnips, pesto and a large selection of specialty vinegars; Alaska Gourmet will have Norton Sound fresh king crab; Dinkel's Veggies will have green beans, zucchini and full florets of cauliflower. Other veggie highlights include beets and fava beans.
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm says "we have lots of beautiful salad mix" along with zucchini, red iceberg lettuce, red romaine lettuce, green romaine lettuce, cheddar cauliflower, purple cauliflower, white cauliflower, cabbage, and fresh chicken and duck eggs. He also had a large selection of pork.
Country Health Foods will have tomatoes, celery, beef, chicken, seafood, Alaska honey and salsa.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
Loads of fresh vegetables, freshly baked bread, meats, kettle corn and jams are some of the highlights this week at the South Anchorage Farmers Markets (Wednesday and Saturday). The Wednesday lineup includes: Glacier Valley Farm, Kenley's Family Farm, Stockwell Family Farm and Mat Valley Meats.
Saturday's market will host the antique tractor show. Some of the vendors include the Rempel Family Farm with a full selection from the fields including carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, arugula, green onions, chard, tatsoi, spinach, kales, turnips and new potatoes; Glacier Valley Farm with berries, sweet onions, zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes; and Rise & Shine Bakery will feature Alaskan baked potato and spent grain pan loaves, along with toasted seed, fresh rosemary and fruited almond hearth loaves.
Anchorage Farmers Market
Arctic Organics will have beets with greens, cabbage, snow apple turnips, zucchini, broccoli, kohlrabi, Chinese cabbage, sugarsnap peas, snow peas, tender young carrots, rainbow chard, collards, mustard greens, watercress, leaf lettuces, kale, arugula, herbs and fresh cut flowers, among other items.
Other vendors scheduled this week: Bushes Bunchesc Persistent Farmer, Stockwell Farms, VanderWeele Farms, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Home Garden, Ba-Lescas Brothers, Turkey Red rustic breads and baked goods, ACAT compost tea, and Magpie Sue serving breakfasts and lunches prepared with fresh farm produce.
Olive oil, garlic and cheese mashed cauliflower
1 head cauliflower
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
w Wash cauliflower and break into large florets.
w Tightly wrap cauliflower florets in an aluminum foil package with peeled garlic cloves that have been seasoned with salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45-55 minutes, until tender.
w Mash in a casserole to desired consistency. Add olive oil and milk and mix well. Add grated Romano cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
Source: South Anchorage Farmers Market Newsletter
TUESDAY: EAGLE RIVER FARMERS MARKET, 3-7 P.M., VFW POST PARKING LOT
WEDNESDAY: CENTER MARKET, 10 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; SOUTH ANCHORAGE FARMERS MARKET, DIMOND CENTER, 10 A.M. TO 4 P.M.; 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: MAT VALLEY MEATS, 6175 EAST PALMER WASILLA HIGHWAY, 11 A.M. TO 6 P.M., 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, THE MALL AT SEARS, 10 A.M. TO 7 P.M.; 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