Summer is rapidly approaching and to mark its arrival, another farmers market reopens this weekend and the Copper River salmon fishery opens Thursday.
"The seafood world is abuzz right now with the beginning of the Copper River fishery," says Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods. "They are going to let the fisherman start at 8 a.m. with a 12-hour opener. We are hoping to have fresh Copper River sockeye in here by midday Friday. As always, no pricing yet until nets hit the water."
It's not just the fresh Copper River fish filling the cases at the seafood shops either. Southall says troll-caught king salmon are coming in from Southeast Alaska and "with the nice weather we have had, the fisherman in the Gulf of Alaska have been able to get and catch some of the amazing seafood the gulf has to offer."
Some of those options include fresh cod and rockfish, fillets for $6.95 per pound and $9.95/pound, respectively. Halibut is $10.50/pound for fresh 10- to 20-pound headed and cleaned fish.
"One last treat is from Prince William Sound -- fresh Alaskan shrimp. Fresh side-stripes will be in house on Thursday with spots showing up on Friday," Southall says.
Spenard Farmers Market Opens
Saturday is opening day for the Spenard Farmers Market in the Chilkoot Charlie's parking lot between 25th and 26th avenues.
"Early season at the Spenard Farmers Market offers a good selection of passionate and knowledgeable 'backyard gardeners,'" says Cindy Shake, the market's community relations volunteer. "But don't let the word 'backyard' fool you into thinking the quality or selection is anything but superior. Customers will find hearty, abundant and unusual plant varieties that have been carefully cultivated to thrive in Alaska's climate.
"Our carefully selected mix of 40-plus weekly vendors who probably wouldn't normally sell at larger multi-day venues include a vibrant balance of the best of Alaskan homemade food, Alaska grown or caught, Alaskan artisans and local Spenard area featured businesses."
Among those to look for on the opening weekend include:
• Brooke Heppinstall of Woolwood Studio & Gardens: Woolwood is a small Palmer nursery that sells "an amazing collection of Alaska-grown hardy perennials, lilies, hardy roses, herbs with handcrafted garden art."
• Frank Wendling: Wendling is a master gardener who will be "selling a small truckload of carefully selected, hearty perennials that he starts from seed - ask about his chocolate lilies and primulas."
• Steph's Starts and Strawberries: It "is a fun booth that a few friends have cooperated to grow organic veggie starts of Arctic varieties and native perennials."
• Artist Lance Lekander: He will bring his "over-the-top fun art inspired by robots, skeletons, bugs, monsters and creatures of all kinds." He will have hand-pulled serigraphs, stuffed monsters, greeting cards, buttons, hand screened shirts and scarves, gargoyle magnets and wall hangings.
• Alaska Gourmet Seafood: They will have all Alaska-caught seafood that's perfect for the grill.
For more information, including an interactive market map at spenardfarmersmarket.org.
"Last year on opening day, the Spenard Farmers Market opened to a late-spring snowfall," Shake says. "Fast forward to 2014 and with record setting warm temperatures, our vendors are reporting a jump in healthy plant starts, warm soil, happy gardeners and blazing barbeques."
While the Spenard Market is kicking off its season, several other markets have been open for a week or two -- or weekly for years.
The Center Market is open Wednesday and Saturday. Look for a full lineup of vendors.
A.D. Farm will have fresh duck and chicken eggs, about 70 dozen, according to Alex Davis. He will also have some storage crops from last fall, fresh pork products (chops, steak, sausages and other cuts), along with barley and other products from Delta.
Drool Central will be at the market on Wednesday with dog treats and fresh frozen meals. Daisy Nicolas has also developed a fresh frozen meal for cats. "'Cat-nevore' has cooked chicken with skins, livers, gizzards, hearts and taurine, which is an amino acid that helps regulate cats' hearts," she says.
Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will have red lentil dahl with cilantro, roasted beets and sweet potato soup, carrot ginger soup, tomato vegetable lentil soup, chunky split pea soup, spaghetti sauce, red beans and brown rice with pico de gallo, fresh pico de gallo, homemade corn chips, breads (with or without rosemary) and lemon cupcakes with vegan cream cheese frosting.
Both Drool Central and Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will also be at Saturday's South Anchorage Farmers Market, along with several other vendors.
Anchorage Farmers Market on 15th Avenue will have Bushes Bunches, Arctic Organics, The Persistent Farmer, Northern Flowers and Turkey Red baked goods as vendors this week.
"It's another perfect week for planting here in the valley," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics. "We've had nothing but sun and none of the usual spring wind to blow the fertilizer away and tear up the newly transplanted seedlings. Mornings are crisp, but not freezing, just right for hardening off the transplants to ease their transition into the field."
Bean says Arctic Organics will have limited quantities of basil, lettuce and arugula fresh from the greenhouse, along with stored beets. They will also have vegetable and flower seedlings, along with tomato plants, hanging baskets, apple trees and fertilizer blends.
Rob Wells, The Persistent Farmer, will have seed potatoes, vegetable starts, tumbler tomato baskets, ferns and dahlia starts.
The Mat-Su Farm Market is open on Mondays in Palmer and features 20-plus vendors. One of Monday's highlights is a class by Good Earth Garden School on organic fertilizer for peak production. The class will cover information about which fertilizers are organic, which can be locally sourced and how to best use them.
Some vendors scheduled for Monday include: The Alaskan Sourdough Bread Company with a wide variety of breads, cookies, muffins and other items; Alaska Sprouts with sprouts and hydroponic lettuces; Bistro Red Beet with gluten-free baked goods; Bushes Bunches with potatoes, other storage crops and several plant starts; Coba's Plant Care with peonies in one- and two-gallon sizes, plant starts and herbs; and Jonesers with teas, rubs and handmade nectars.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local farmers markets
Monday: Mat-Su Farm Market, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Palmer Depot
Wednesday: Center Market, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
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, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; 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