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Market Fresh: Healthy planet serves Alaska farmers and fishermen well

Steve Edwards

Tuesday was Earth Day, and across Alaska farmers and fishermen are working with Earth's bounty on a daily basis.

Here are three examples:

• Earthworks Farm:"We're celebrating Earth Day on Earthworks Farm by opening up the beehives and doing our spring cleaning of the hives," Dee Barker says. "We have a bottom board at the base of each hive which can be removed to clear out the flotsam, like dead bees and other gunk. That gives our bees a healthy environment for the coming busy summer months. It's necessary to do this for the bees in the beginning of the season because so much gunk is built up over the winter that they are unable to clear it out themselves. But after the bulk is cleared, they are very able to maintain their housekeeping themselves and keep their bottom board clean throughout the summer.

"We have removed the hay insulation and now the bees can enter their hive in the bottom entrance as well as have access/ventilation holes in the upper hive boxes. Two of the eight hives looked a little sluggish so I combined them to give them more 'oomph' in the number of active foragers. So now I have seven very busy hives humming along on Earth Day."

Earthworks Farm will be at Wednesday's Center Market with Abeille Alaska beeswax and honey body care items.

• Kodiak Jig Seafoods: Alaska Marine Conservation Council is currently accepting reservations for its Community Supported Fisheries program -- Catch of the Season. The council is working with the Kodiak jig fishermen to sell jig-caught cod and rockfish to Southcentral residents through a unique partnership, Kodiak Jig Seafoods. In previous years, they have sold tanner crab.

Prices and sizes vary. Jig-caught black rockfish are available in 10-pound ($120) and 25-pound ($275) boxes. Jig-caught Pacific cod are $100 for the 10-pound box and $225 for the 25-pound box. Orders must be placed by May 12. Visit www.akmarine.org for more information or to order.

The fish can be picked up in Anchorage, Kodiak and Homer. Organizers expect the fish to be ready the week of May 19.

• Center Market: Just a week ago, market organizers Alex Davis and Duane Clark were ready to trim the twice-a-week market to just a single day. They have fields to prepare and animals to tend to as the busy spring season sets in.

But things change.

"Alex and I have listened to our customers and vendors and the decision is that we will continue to keep our Saturdays going right along with our Wednesdays," Clark says. "The Mall at Sears is agreeable with our decision and continues to be the best host for a year-round farmers market in Anchorage."

Clark says this week he will have Alaska seafood, grass-fed beef, local free-range chicken and Alaska Sprouts items.

Davis will have fresh eggs; whole barley along with barley cereal and flour; pork products, including chops, roast, steak, fresh side, ground pork, Italian sausage, spicy sausage, breakfast sausage patties, fat, liver, trotters and skin; and beets, carrots and potatoes.

The Rempel Family Farm will have eight varieties of potatoes, squash and beets available 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.

Monica's Confection Connection will be back on Wednesday with an assortment of brittles, including the new cayenne cashew.

Drool Central will have freshly baked dog treats and freshly frozen dog meals on Wednesday. They will also participate in Saturday's Scoop the Poop Day at Connors Bog. No treats at the poop scoop day, but coupons will be available for volunteers. Scoopers are needed from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The market is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays at the Mall at Sears.

From the ocean

As the weather warms, so do the seafood options at local shops.

"Shrimp fishing in Prince William Sound opened last week and with the nice weather we have had lately the fisherman were able to go out and catch a few of these cold water delights," says Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods. "The season is open for both spots and side stripe shrimp."

10th and M has spot shrimp going for $18.95 per pound and the side stripes for $12.95/pound.

John Jackson of New Sagaya Markets agrees: "Fresh Alaska spots coming in as well; first of the season was in last week, real big size, definitely sashimi quality."

Southall says they also have a nice supply of troll-caught king salmon from Southeast, along with halibut, rockfish and cod from the Gulf of Alaska. Headed and cleaned halibut are selling for $10.50/pound for 10- to 20-pound fish. Rockfish fillets are $9.95/pound and cod fillets are $6.95/pound.

"A treat from our flatfish friends are fresh halibut cheeks," Southall says. "These amazing medallions paired with either one of the cold water delights would take anyone's palate to a Alaskan seafood paradise."

Jackson says most fish supplies are looking good.

"Rock fish are coming in consistently the last two weeks and looking really nice," he says. "Alaskan black cod ... big fish and beautiful looking fillets."

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


By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent