As the calendar turns to May, there is plenty to get excited about in the farmers' market world.
The trusty standbys are still chugging along -- with both the Center Market in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Farm Market in Palmer taking place weekly.
On Saturday, the Anchorage Farmers Market joins the cast.
"It's looking like the first market of the year will proceed right on schedule," says Sarah Bean, market organizer and owner of Arctic Organics. "We are pinching ourselves after last spring's late arrival. So far, breakup has gone very painlessly, and we're actually looking at tilling and planting in the field earlier than we have in a long time. It's time to get gardening!"
Vendors scheduled this week include Arctic Organics, Bushes Bunches, The Persistent Farmer and Turkey Red baked goods.
"We'll be bringing in the first taste of arugula this weekend," Bean says. "We'll also have stored carrots and beets. They are still delicious! For gardeners we'll have plenty of vegetable and flower seedlings, whose varieties are well-suited to Alaska growing conditions. We'll have a large selection of tomato plants -- many Siberian types bred for growing outdoors in the far north, and classic greenhouse types as well, as well as a few early hanging baskets, and our fertilizer blends."
The Persistent Farmer, Rob Wells, will be at the market with five varieties of seed potatoes and a few dahlia starts "for those who just can't wait."
While Wells is excited about spring just like everyone else, he offers a word or two of caution: "I know the weather has been great, but we still need to be cautious with the dahlia starts as one night below 32 degrees will do them in. I will also be checking to see if the ferns are up for those who want to do some landscaping in shade gardens. If they are not ready I will be taking orders for the coming weeks."
The Anchorage Farmers Market is at 15th Avenue and Cordova Street in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot. It is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
The indoor Center Market continues Wednesday and Saturday at The Mall at Sears. The market is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm will have "lots of eggs both days; the weather has warmed up and the production reflects that."
Davis also will have beets and peanut potatoes and "Wednesday will be the last of my carrots until August." He will also have a full lineup of pork products, including chops and sausages, along with barley products.
The Rempel Family Farm will have eight varieties of potatoes, stripetti squash and beets at Wednesday's market.
Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will offer roasted beets and sweet potato soup, carrot ginger soup, tomato vegetable lentil soup, chunky split pea soup, red lentil dahl with cilantro, spaghetti sauce, red beans and brown rice with pico de gallo, fresh pico de gallo, homemade corn chips, lemon garlic hemp seed salad dressing, breads (with or without rosemary) and lemon cupcakes with vegan cream cheese frosting.
Drool Central will be at the market with doggie treats and fresh-frozen meals made with wild Alaska fish, Alaska-grown barley and vegetables.
Earthworks Farm will be at the market Wednesday with their Abeille Alaska beeswax and honey products, including their moisturizing cream. This week's featured item is handmade soap with Alaska beeswax, honey, olive oil, palm oil, coconut oil and shea butter. They will also be at the Exchange Mall at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson from Thursday to Saturday.
"We obtained four new packages of bees this week, which we registered with the Alaska Grown program and with the State Agricultural Department," Dee Barker says. "I bought mine from Steve Victors, president of the local bee club, Southcentral Alaska Beekeeping Association. Anytime people ask me about beekeeping I encourage them to hang out at the SABA meetings.
"Our local beekeepers are a friendly bunch of people who love to support one another. Alaskan climate is different enough from the Lower 48 such that a novice beekeeper, like myself who's only been doing this for five years, greatly benefits from the support. A few of our members have been beekeepers in Alaska over 30 years!"
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at email@example.com.
By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent