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Food and Drink

Alaska-grown vegetable subscription box services are ramping up for summer

Megan Talley, farm manager for APU’s Spring Creek Farm, waters the tomatoes and peppers after a visit on Wednesday May 25, 2016. (Bob Hallinen / Alaska Dispatch News)

With the recent sunny skies and higher temperatures, our thoughts are turning toward summer. And that means bursting gardens.

For those who don't grow their own vegetables, local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscriptions are a popular way to fill the dinner table while also connecting with local farmers. There are several Valley farms that host CSAs.
The co-op/subscription systems support local farmers and offer consumers a direct connection to their food supplier.

"In joining our CSA program, you are supporting your food producers directly, eliminating the middle people — i.e., the distributor and the retailer," says Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics, which is beginning its 29th CSA season. "You are purchasing high-quality, sustainably and locally grown produce, thereby avoiding the high environmental and health costs and questionable merits of agricultural chemicals, genetic modification and the fossil fuels and other resources necessary for growing it and shipping it long distances.

"In exchange, you will receive high quality, toxin free, nutrient rich, flavorful produce on a weekly basis, freshly harvested the same day it's delivered."

Here is a rundown on some local CSA options:

Arctic Organics 

At Arctic Organics, Bean says a subscription provides "a full array of vegetables grown here on the farm and delivered to a central location each week, starting in mid-June and ending in late September."

The subscription ($650) runs June 13 to Sept. 19.

Bean says to expect a wide variety of produce, from early season supplies of spinach, radishes and market express turnips, to later-season offerings of cauliflower, potatoes and carrots.

Weekly pickup is in downtown Anchorage, Eagle River or at the farm. (arcticorganics.com)

Sun Circle Farm

Anne-Corinne Kell at Sun Circle Farm is starting her eighth CSA year after helping start the CSA at Spring Creek Farm.

The Sun Circle CSA comes in two sizes — small (six to seven servings, $450) and large (10 to 12 servings, $700) — and includes weekly salad greens and fresh herbs, along with a variety of what's available in the field. Kell provides 17 weeks of produce starting in June.

"I try for a nice mix of the standards — broccoli, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes — and then add some more unusual vegetables —kohlrabi, broccoli raab, fennel, leeks, Brussels sprouts, etc.," Kell says.

Weekly pickup is at the Valley farm or in Anchorage at the South Anchorage Farmers Market on Saturdays. (suncirclefarm.com)

Spring Creek Farm

Spring Creek Farm, which is part of Alaska Pacific University, offers weekly full shares ($600) or every other week half shares ($300). The 18-week season is scheduled to start in mid-to-late June. Pickup is at the weekly APU Farmers Market on Wednesdays or at the farm. (alaskapacific.edu)

Center Market

For those looking for produce now, the thrice-weekly Center Market is a good option.

Alex Davis of AD Farm still has storage crops like potatoes and carrots, along with plenty of cuts of pork, chicken eggs and jam.

Rempel Family Farm is at Saturday's market with organic seed potatoes for those who want to grow their own. They also have nine varieties of potatoes you can turn into something tasty for dinner, along with beets, carrots, stripetti squash, cabbage and purple onions.

Davis says these items or vendors will also be at the market on various days: Alaska Flour Co.'s barley products; Evie's Brinery items, including krauts; Alaska Sprouts with micro greens, sprouts, tofu and basil; Wild Child fermented salsa; Far North Fungi's mushrooms; Mosquito Mama balsamic vinegar; Windy River Farm grass-fed beef; Tonia's Biscotti; Jonsers' hand-crafted nectars; and Doggy Decadents treats.

Thankful Thursdays

Julie Meer of Farm 779 is featuring "our fizzy fermented krauts including Spring Clean, Stout, Karnivor and Hot." Also look for fermented onions, citrus and asparagus, along with beet kvass and beet kvass char, carrot kvass, cold brew kombucha tea in two flavors, coconut kefir in four flavors and two dips, along with other tasty treats.

On Saturday and Sunday, Farm 779 is at the Health and Wellness Expo at the Alaska Airlines Center.

Duane Clark will be at the market with dog treats, honey, birch syrup, jams, salsa, zucchini relish, glacier water, halibut, black cod, scallops, shrimp, Pacific cod and, of course, cuts of grass-fed beef. Clark says his beef sale continues. "I am able to work with folks who wish to cut and wrap their own beef by supplying it by appointment," he says. For more information on beef packages, contact Clark at 907-355-8432.

Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at akmarketfresh@gmail.com.

Local farmers markets

Wednesday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street

Thursday in Anchorage: Thankful Thursdays market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street

Friday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Fourth Avenue Indoor Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 333 W. Fourth Ave.

Saturday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Fourth Avenue Indoor Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 333 W. Fourth Ave.

Sunday in Anchorage: Fourth Avenue Indoor Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 333 W. Fourth Ave.

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