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Market Fresh: Time for blue-ribbon produce -- and gelato's last stop

Steve Edwards

Labor Day weekend is nearly upon us and that means plenty of changes at the markets. Some of this is good news, some not as good.

Under the good news department: Market-goers can pick up some Alaska State Fair-winning produce and flower blooms. The selection is amazing.

And now for the bad news: Carmen’s Gelato, the roving Italian ice cream stand, is making his last trip to the Spenard Farmers Market this week. “Last chance to pick up some of his award-winning maple brown butter pecan gelato; won top six in North America,” says Cindy Shake, the market’s community and media relations volunteer. Consider yourself warned.

Anchorage Farmers Market

Look for Rob Wells and his prize-winning dahlia blooms at Saturday’s market.

“My dahlia bloom is peaking and I will have hundreds of blooms on Saturday,” says Wells, The Persistent Farmer. “The quality and color are excellent, and many of the plants are producing State Fair prize-winning blooms. Don’t mean to brag, but got more than a few blue ribbons last week; however, I am just the lucky guy who gets to tend these great late season blooms.”

Arctic Organics will have new-to-the-market carrots, zucchini, celery, salad onions and new potatoes this week. Alongside those items, there will be plenty of other produce, including: red bell peppers, fennel, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, daikon radish, scallions, kale, mustard greens, arugula, a greens mix and watercress.

South Anchorage Farmers Market

Pick up some award-winning potatoes from the Two Sisters’ Greenhouse and Family Farm stand at Saturday’s market.

The Lewis Family Farm took the blue ribbon and grand champion ribbon in the commercial division at the State Fair with its Yukon gold potatoes. Stop by and pick up some of those or some “cute little baby myrnas and baby blues that are great for roasting,” says Pamela Lewis.

Also look for new freshly harvested peas in the pod, heirloom cherry and salad tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh basil, pickled beets, dilly carrots and fresh Alaska berry jams and jellies.

Arthur Keyes of Glacier Valley Farm says now is the time to pick up some Alaska-grown sweet onions.

“What a great year for the onions,” he says. “Over the past few thousand years, the silt from (the Matanuska and Knik glaciers) have combined specifically in the Palmer region of the Matanuska Valley to give us a low sulfur silt loam soil. If you’ve ever wondered why some onions make you cry and some don’t, here is your answer -- sulfur! Sulfur in conjunction with the variety of onion causes your tears, when you cut the onion the sulfur-based gas in the onion is released, when it meets the moisture on your eye it forms sulfuric acid causing you to cry.

“Our Yensis onions are a Scottish variety particularly well-suited for Alaska’s high latitude growing environment; our high latitude climate combined with our low-sulfur, wind-borne glacial soil gives you a local Alaska sweet onion you can feel good about eating and cutting!”

The onions will be lining the Glacier Valley Farm table along with zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, turnips, lettuce, strawberries and other items. The farm will also be at the South Anchorage Wednesday Market, the Spenard Farmers Market and the Saturday Eagle River Farmers Market.

The Rempel Family Farm will have another well-stocked booth this week with well over 30 varieties of vegetables. Among the highlights are seven varieties of potatoes, four varieties of beets, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, salad mix and snow apple turnips.

Center Market

The pigs are keeping Alex Davis plenty busy at A.D. Farm.

“Yet another set of piglets, putting us at 38 under 5 weeks old, with 2 more litters expected soon and more late next month,” he says. “People have noticed that I am thin on inventory, and the simple answer is we are keeping butcher stock for breeding stock so I can have more butcher stock. Next spring I fully expect my depth issues to be fixed and things will get better as we get into fall and winter.”

Look for some of those pork products in the coolers at the market this week, alongside a bunch of vegetables, including five varieties of cauliflower, and barley products.

Duane Clark’s Country Health Foods will have strawberries, smoked salmon and smoked black cod, spot shrimp, local raw honey and some of those award-winning dahlia blooms from The Persistent Farmer on “Wednesdays for the next month or so,” Clark says.

Choose Food Wisely will be at the market with Magenta Reju, “a cold fermentation folk remedy and tastes wonderful when enjoyed over ice,” says Julie Meer. She will also have coconut kefir, sprouted quinoa cacao tea cakes and other items. Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will be back with the regular menu items.

Spenard Farmers Market

As always, the vendor booths will be full in Spenard.

Look for leeks, peas, rainbow carrots, pesto and smoked herb salt from Chugach Farms. Dinkel’s Veggies will have raspberries, strawberries, broccoli, green beans, potatoes, lettuce and other items. (Dinkel’s will be at several locations, including the Northway Mall Wednesday Market and several Wasilla markets.) Spring Creek Farm will highlight carrots, lettuce and arugula; Wildrose Alaska Natural Harvests will have wild blueberry pecan vinaigrette, lime pepper jellies and blueberry peach jams; and Ba-Lescas Brothers will have onions, Japanese and sweet cucumbers, snap peas, lettuce, zucchini, green fava beans, red onion, rainbow beans and squash blossoms.

Local farmers’ markets

Monday: Mat-Su Farm Market, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Palmer Depot

Tuesday: Eagle River Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m, VFW 

Wednesday: APU Farmers Market, 1:30-6:30 p.m., 4101 University Drive; Center Market, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Northway Mall Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Northway Mall; South Anchorage Wednesday Market, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dimond Center; Wasilla Farmers Market, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., near Wasilla Wonderland Park 

Thursday: Peters Creek American Legion Post 33 Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m., 21643 Old Glenn Highway

Friday: Willow Farmers Market, 2-7 p.m., Mile 69 Parks Highway

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; Homer Famers Market, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Ocean Drive; 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; Saturday Eagle River Farmers Market, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mike’s Meats in Eagle River; 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 street

Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at sedwards@adn.com.