It snowed in parts of Anchorage earlier this week. That continues a cool spring trend in Southcentral Alaska.
But it isn't slowing down the farmers market season.
"As a farmer, this has been the coldest spring I have ever experienced but that will not stop us from having a great year on the farm and at the market," says Arthur Keyes, the longtime operator of the South Anchorage Farmers Market. "I drove a tractor all day (Monday), and it's always a good day when you get to drive a tractor!"
The South Anchorage market opens its 13th season on Saturday, along with the Anchorage Market and Festival. Those openings follow the opening of the Anchorage Farmers Market last Saturday. And the indoor markets at the Mall at Sears continue Wednesday through Saturday, along with the Fourth Avenue Indoor Market.
"We started in 2006 with just six vendors," Keyes says. "The time has gone by so quickly! The market has become a community event that I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in.
"We will have a record number of vendors for our opening week. We will be joined by a couple of new farmers—Gold Nugget Farm, Harvest Point Farm and Seeds of Change. Harvest Point Farm and Seeds of Change grow indoor veggies, so there will be fresh veggies at the market on opening day!"
In addition to the fresh veggies grown indoors, for outdoor gardeners, there will be seedlings and flower baskets to get your season started.
Paula Giauque of Last Frontier Flowers will be at the market with baskets, most featuring petunias or calibrachoa. Of course, it's early in the season, so "we suggest that they put their baskets out during the day and bring them in at night for five to seven days to harden off."
Other vendors highlighting flowers and plant starts include the Blue Poppy, Northern Flowers, Gold Nugget Farm, Three Bears Farm and Glacier Valley Farm.
Earthworks Farm will be at the market with "a full 'smorgasbord' of our beeswax and honey bath and skin care line," owner Dee Barker says. Wild Child Fermented Foods will have a wide selection of items, including fermented jalapeños and carrots and pineapple pepper salsa.
Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop will have chocolate chip cookies; peanut butter cookies; a variety of breads, scones and muffins; almond granola; bird seed bars; and coconut macaroons. Other food vendors include Sweet and Sassy Kettle Corn, Little Dipper Donuts, Beach Tribe Soda Works, Maryjane's Cinnamon Rolls, Sweet Caribou and Non-essentials Food Wagon.
Other vendors include Drool Central, with treats and meals for dogs; Arctic Choice Seafoods; Farm 779 with flower starts and fermented foods, including beet kvass and krauts; Butcher Block Number 9; Far North Fungi; and Beach Tribe Soda Works.
Anchorage Farmers Market
Much like Keyes, Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics and the Anchorage Farmers Market is celebrating spring's arrival. "We are finally able to get into our field to prepare the soil for this year's crops," she says. "We've been staying plenty busy in the greenhouses. Our first crop of arugula will be ready this Saturday!"
Arctic Organics will have vegetable and flower seedlings, including tomato plants, along with hanging baskets and fertilizer blends.
Other vendors scheduled for the market include AD Farm, All About Time, Ed & Tina's Kraut & Pickling, Happy Valley Chickens with fresh eggs, Matanuska Gardens, Northern Flowers, Seldovitch Farm, Shaggy Mane Shroomery, Sun Fire Ridge, The Persistent Farmer and Turkey Red Café with breads and treats.
Alex Davis and AD Farm will have his regular pork products at all three markets, but also has something special in his freezer. He's bringing a pair of butchered pigs ready for barbecue season. The pigs are 35 to 49 pounds cleaned.
Davis also has potatoes and carrots, along with eggs, raspberry jam, raw honey, Alaska Sprouts items, Alaska Flour Co. products and items from Evie's Brinery.
Duane Clark's dog, Sweet Pea, has been eating well, and now Clark is ready to share the secret with other dog owners.
"I'm introducing raw dog food consisting of lean meat scraps ground with organ meats offered in 1- and 2-pound chubs frozen for convenience," Clark says. "The premium combination includes a spoon of fermented kefir from Farm 779."
Clark has his regular lineup of "people food" too, including grass-fed beef and local Alaskan seafood, local honey, salsa, jams and Alaska Sprouts items.
Julie Meer of Farm 779 will be well stocked with fermented foods on Thursday, including four varieties of coconut kefirs, krauts, kvass, triple ferment kombucha tea and cookies.
From the sea
Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods says this "is one of the most important weekends of the year with Mother's Day. And what better way to say 'I love you' to mom than Alaskan seafood?"
Southall says the shop will be filled with a large variety of seafood, including fresh halibut, with 10-to-20-pound headed and cleaned fish at $8.95 per pound.
"Later in the week we should see some fresh shrimp from Prince William Sound," Southall says. "Both side stripes and spots should be available head off to enjoy. What better way to say 'thank you' and 'I love you, mom' than colossal red king crab? These amazing legs and claws will be on special this week and with a little melted butter mom would know how much you love her."
Southall says for mothers who live out of state, seafood orders placed by Wednesday evening will be delivered on Friday.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at email@example.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: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 15th Avenue and Cordova Street; Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; 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.; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., O'Malley Sports Center,
Sunday in Anchorage: Anchorage Market and Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; Fourth Avenue Indoor Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 333 W. Fourth Ave.