One of the great treats of farmers' markets is meeting the local growers, fishers and artisans. Walk up to a booth and start talking; you'll get an insight not found in the aisles of the local store.
Julie Meer is one of those growers, the owner of Choose Food Wisely and co-owner of Farm 779. She can be found at the Wednesday Center Market with her fermented whole food probiotics and drinks.
"Our farm is a sustainable operation dedicated to restoring balance in the ecosystem," she says. "We feature sustainable grown peonies, fresh veggies and raw honey from our apiary.
"Fermenting food does not use heat or cooking in the process and actually increases the nutritional benefits of the vegetables. When we cook food, we process food, and when we process food we sacrifice nutrition. Health and wellness coaching helps people understand how food and lifestyle choices affect health.
"Farm 779 specialty whole-food probiotic items aid in digestive and brain wellness. Our motto is always 'think ahead 30 years in regard to brain function and digestive health.' What we ingest today will matter then, more than most of us realize."
Probiotics are designed to help digestive health, thus aiding the immune system.
Farm 779 offers two kinds of kefir water soda, blueberry and root beer, along with full-fat coconut kefir in plain and citrus, krauts, fermented seasonal vegetables and organic coconut bacon, which is a vegan offering with no nitrates or sulfites. The coconut kefir is dairy free.
"Our Farm 779 krauts feature proprietary Ayurvedic seasonal spice blends and are unique both in flavor and effect," Meer says. "Farm 779 products are not mass-produced, as we are a family-owned cottage industry based on Lazy Mountain. All of our offerings are made in small batches with great attention to detail and quality."
Also at the Center Market this week look for A.D. Farm with pork products, including chops, roast, steak and sausages; fresh eggs; potatoes; and beets.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
Look for plenty of vendors at the market on Saturday.
Dee Barker of Earthworks Farm says things are coming together on the farm, both with seedlings and in the bee world.
"We use Eliot Coleman's method of using compost-rich soil blocks to give our seedlings an extra nutrition boost before they go out into the field," she says. "Over the past weeks it has been very dry and they have a tendency to lap up the water that spills over my workbench as I transfer the seedlings."
Look for Earthworks' Abeille Alaska beeswax and honey skin and body care products this week. (They are also at the Wednesday Center Market.)
This week's market sponsor, Northrim Bank, will kick off the purple plant contest with free plant starts. Judging will be in August.
New to the market this week is Country Garden Farms with sod for a great lawn. Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will have a lineup of foods, including red lentil dahl soup with cilantro, pico de gallo and homemade corn tortilla chips. Seldovitsch Family Farm will have white turnips, spinach, romaine lettuce, spring salad and fresh eggs. And Drool Central will be at the market with freshly made dog treats.
Anchorage Farmers Market
The growers say it's time to get serious about planting.
"It's only gonna be June 1st on Sunday, plenty of time to start your garden," says Rob Wells, The Persistent Farmer, who will have dahlia starts, a few ferns, some seed potatoes and tomato plants at Saturday's market.
Says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics: "Gardeners no longer need to fear low overnight temperatures! It's about time to harden off the more tender plants like tomatoes, squashes and beans."
Arctic Organics will have fresh arugula, basil, some lettuces and possibly some fresh cilantro. They also will have vegetable and flower seedlings, tomato plants, apple trees, fertilizer blends and hanging baskets.
Spenard Farmers Market
The continuing warm weather has provided market-goers with some unexpected treats.
"The early season warm temperatures and sunshine have provided a bumper crop of early rhubarb," says Cindy Shake, the market's media and community relations volunteer chair. "I'm on my second harvest and have already shared fresh pie with family and friends!"
Here are some additional vendor highlights for this week: Adina's Acres will have corn, summer squash and tomato starts; Green Winter Farms will have pre-potted strawberry plants; Chugach Farm, an off-grid homestead farm in the Valley, will have spring green mix as well as cranberry birch kombucha and blueberry birch kombucha; Ba-Lescas Brothers is harvesting micro-greens mix, arugula, radishes, mint and chives; Glacier Valley Farm will have English cucumbers; and Alaska Seafood will have Alaska-caught crab, salmon, halibut and scallops.
Mat-Su Farm Market
The Mat-Su Farm Market will be indoors at the Palmer Depot on Monday. Megan Talley, farm manager at Spring Creek Farm, will teach a 6 p.m. class on organic pest management. She will discuss several effective tactics, from homemade concoctions to safe store-bought options and where to find them.
Some market highlights include: new vendor River Garden Greenhouse, Seed Savers Exchange, Seldovitsch Family Farm, Brooke Family Farm and Three Branches.
LOCAL MARKET CALENDAR:
• 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
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By STEVE EDWARDS
Daily News correspondent