The seasons are changing, and for local growers it means different things to keep them busy in the fields.
"This week marks the end of planting season for us, as well as the end of the major weeding effort in our carrot and beet fields," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market. "Our routine can shift to focus more on tending the smaller crops, and harvest, harvest, harvest!"
Says Rob Wells, the Persistent Farmer, who will also be at the Anchorage Farmers Market: "Remember the flooding last fall, the snow this year in late May and then all those sunny, hot days ... well my dahlia bloom is late, but it's gonna be a big one from now until October."
And note this list of produce from Alex Davis of A.D. Farm and the Center Market: "The produce is coming in like an avalanche. In three pickings of beans, we have picked more than we usually get in a year. Our white carrots are big and beautiful. The beets are all weighing in at about half-pound average. The broccoli is vibrant beautiful and oh, so tasty."
If that's not enough to get you headed to one of the local farmers markets, nothing will get you there.
Here are some market highlights:
Anchorage Farmers Market
Bean says some of the new items they will bring to Saturday's market include large fennel bulbs, red cabbage and pac choi. They'll also be back with carrots; cauliflower; red, Chioggia and golden beets; cabbage, snow apple turnips; zucchini; broccoli; kohlrabi; Chinese cabbage; sugarsnap peas; snow pea; daikon radish; loads of greens including chard, beet greens, collards, spinach, lettuces, mibuna and arugula; herbs; and fresh cut flowers.
Other vendors in addition to Arctic Organics and the Persistent Farmer's dahlias include: Bushes Bunches, Stockwell Farms, VanderWeele Farms, Seldovitch Farm, LivenGreen, Home Garden, Ba-Lescas Brothers, Turkey Red, ACAT compost tea, and Magpie Sue with breakfasts and lunches.
Spenard Farmers Market
Cindy Shake points out that the Spenard market is home to plenty of variety.
"Did you know that last week there were seven different types of kale being offered by our vendors?" asks Shake, the market's community and media relations volunteer.
This week, the market is hosting an All Things Zucchini Day event along with a food drive for the Children's Lunchbox program. Early shoppers will be able to take advantage of Glacier Valley Farm's one day only $1 zucchini sale. And market organizers are encouraging visitors to bring a canned food or other nonperishable food donation to the market to assist Children's Lunchbox. Data collected in 2012 indicated that more than 18,000 students in the Anchorage School District live in poverty.
"The Children's Lunchbox system of getting food directly into the hands of young elementary students is a unique and successful one," Shake says.
For those shopping Saturday, consider these vendor's zucchini highlights: Urban Bamboo will feature a special Alaska grown dish, fritto misto, which is an Italian dish with zucchini breaded and fried, with house made tomato marinara; Ba-Lesca Brothers will have zucchini blossoms for sale; A Pie Stop will feature homemade from scratch zucchini bread; and the Anchorage Food Mosaic will feature information cards on zucchini uses and preservation techniques. (And check out the zucchini recipe at the bottom of the story.)
Non-zucchini highlights include: Fresh International Gardens will have cabbage and gigantic collard greens; Roo's Garden is picking basil, baby greens and mint; P&M Garden Services will have fresh from the greenhouse herbs, English cucumbers and unique house plants; Chugach Farm will have the popular purple cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, kale, peas, herbs, carrots, scallions, Celtic sea salt herb blend vinegars and kombucha; Spring Creek Farm will have cheddar cauliflower; and Dinkel's Veggies will have vine-ripened tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, cabbage, new potatoes and pickling cucumbers. (Dinkel's will also be at the Wednesday Northway Mall Market, the Wasilla Wednesday Market, the Friday Fling and the Downtown Market and Festival.)
Davis says that he will have five varieties of cauliflower with him at the market this week -- white, cheddar, purple, green and Romanesco.
"The zucchini is trying to drown us," he says. "We are getting about 10 totes worth every picking off of 200 plants. We have the traditional green and all the colors available in pool ball zucchini. If you are looking for a personal-sized stuffed zucchini, they are great."
Davis will also have cabbage, salad mix, a variety of lettuces and a full lineup of pork products. He also will have about 60 dozen eggs on Wednesday and another 30 dozen on Saturday.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
The market is always packed with vendors and shoppers. Highlights to look for this week include:
• Southfork: Fresh batches of sweet dill pickles; chow chow and zucchini relishes; heirloom tomatoes; and raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, rhubarb and salmonberry jams.
• Glacier Valley Farm: Lots of strawberries, onions, squash and broccoli.
• Rempel Family Farm: Organic bags of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, Romanesco cauliflower, three varieties of beets, zucchini, lettuce, kohlrabi, radishes, spinach and red, yellow and purple potatoes, among other produce. (The Rempels will also be at the Wednesday Northway Mall Market.)
The market will be hosting a Winestyles event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For $10, participants get a wine glass and a taste of three red, three white wines and three craft beers. Proceeds go to the Alaska Farmland Trust.
FROM THE SEA
There are still plenty of seafood options as September gets closer.
Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods says fresh silver salmon are being landed daily.
"These lovely silver bright fish are available headed and cleaned as well as filleted," Southall says. "A treat this week from the cold Alaskan waters are fresh scallops. These scrumptious bivalves are available this week for $19.95 a pound and would go great paired up with a silver fillet."
Fresh cod and halibut are in the store too. Cod from Kodiak Island is $6.95 per pound for fillets, while halibut is $9.50 per pound for full headed and gutted fish.
Recipe: Zesty Zuch's Spenard Skillet
This recipe makes a nice dish for 6 people and tastes great with eggs, over pasta or on top of brown rice. You can mix and match other favorite Alaska grown veggies but the real surprise flavor will be found in the browned chickpeas and zest of lemon.
3 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion
11/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups chopped kale
3 medium zucchini, chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
red pepper flakes to taste
Heat half of the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add a pinch of salt, green onions, yellow onion and chickpeas and saute over medium heat until the chickpeas are golden brown and slightly crispy; it may take a while.
Add the kale and cook for another minute until tender.
Take everything out of the pan and set aside. In the same pan add the remaining olive oil, another pinch of salt and the zucchini. Saute until soft and they start to color. Add the chickpea mixture back to the skillet along with the lemon juice and zest.
Turn off the heat and top with red pepper flakes and additional salt and pepper to taste!
Source: Cindy Shake of the Spenard Farmers Market
LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS
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