It's still early, but farmers' market options are expanding quickly.
This week, both the South Anchorage Farmers Market and the Anchorage Market and Festival open for the year.
The South Anchorage Farmers Market is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Subway/Cellular One Sports Center at the corner of Old Seward Highway and O'Malley Road.
Look for a variety of vendors with early season crops, plant starts and some fresh fish.
"If this spring is any indication, it looks like it is shaping up to be another beautiful summer," says market organizer Arthur Keyes of Glacier Valley Farm.
Among the vendors is Arctic Choice Seafoods. They will have fresh side-stripe shrimp, oysters, troll-caught king salmon, sablefish, cod, rockfish and halibut. Frozen red king crab legs and razor clam meats are also available.
Earthworks Farm will be at Saturday's market with their handmade Abeille Alaska beeswax and honey skin and body care products. They will also be at Wednesday's Center Market.
Things are active on the farm as spring heats up.
"Now the honeybees on our farm are building up comb and bringing in pollen," Dee Barker says. "We live at a higher elevation in the Matanuska Valley, so we don't have flowers open yet, but the poplar buds have opened and my bees seem to like the poplar for making propolis, a sticky reddish-brown substance they put in various places in the hive and comb. The chemical components of propolis varies geographically depending on the forage available to the bees. Nevertheless there is research that suggests that propolis has components in common across regions that have medicinal properties that are antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory.
"When I open my beehives, the scent of poplar is strong in the hives this time of year. I have noticed also that the thicker 'brood wax,' the comb they use in their nesting area, is darker and has a higher content of the propolis."
The Anchorage Market and Festival is popular with visitors, but it also offers some nice options for locals in the food arena. The market is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; it is at Third Avenue between C and E streets.
The Anchorage Farmers Market is back for its second Saturday. And market organizer Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics says things are going perfectly right now.
"I couldn't wish for better," she says. "The first seeds are in the ground and we're getting our first gentle spring shower to water them in. And, the forecast is for another beautiful day at market this weekend! With the leaves budding out on the local birch trees, it is truly time to get your garden plants hardening off. It's looking like an early spring!
"We'll be bringing limited quantities of basil and arugula fresh from the greenhouse. We'll also have plenty of stored carrots and beets."
Bean says her farm will also have plenty of vegetable and flower seedlings, including tomatoes that are well-suited for Alaska's growing conditions.
Other vendors to look for include: Bushes Bunches, The Persistent Farmer and Turkey Red baked goods. "With all the sun, my plants are growing fast," says Rob Wells, The Persistent Farmer. "Vegetable starts, ferns for shade gardens, certified seed potatoes and a selection of dahlia starts will be available."
The Anchorage Farmers Market is open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 15th and Cordova in the Central Lutheran Church parking lot.
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.
And this week is a special market.
"This Wednesday we will be celebrating our 208th week straight of continuous markets in Anchorage," says market organizer Alex Davis, owner of A.D. Farm. "Come celebrate with us 11-2; we will be having soup for lunch, the soup is made from my peanut potatoes, courtesy of Crossbar. Enjoy a cup on us."
"The appreciation and support from the local community has been exceptional, and it is a real pleasure to supply the best products available," says co-founder Duane Clark of Country Health Foods.
Davis says he will have plenty of eggs both Wednesday and Saturday, along with pork products (chops, roast, steak, ground pork, sausage, liver, fat and other items), potatoes and beets.
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. Drool Central will also be at Saturday's South Anchorage Farmers Market.
From the sea
John Jackson of New Sagaya Markets says to look for halibut this week at a special price of $9.99 per pound for 10- to 20-pound headed and gutted fish.
"Halibut pricing has stiffened the last few days, so grab the flat fish while the pricing is still low," he says. "Look for troll kings in the case as well, pricing is starting to weaken and this will mean better pricing for the consumer. Copper River is tentatively slated to open next week; haven't really heard anything on pricing as of yet. Spring is really here when you start to see Copper River coming in!"
He also has fresh Alaska oysters and is expecting spot shrimp by the weekend. Other items to look for include fresh tuna, marlin and opah from Hawaii and top neck clams from Florida.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent