Food and Drink

It’s boomtime for Alaska blooms at local farmers markets

Rob Wells grows and sells dahlias and dahlia tubers from his Palmer-area farm. One of the many varieties on dahlias Wells grows is the Alfred C dahlia photographed in one of his greenhouses on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

August weather has arrived with plenty of liquid sunshine.

If you're looking to add a spot of color amid the gray, flower vendors at the local farmers markets might have the perfect bouquet for you. Or maybe it's just a stem or two?

At the Anchorage Farmers Market, choose from a variety of flowers at the Brown Dog, Persistent Farmer and Arctic Organics booths.

"Our market will be bursting with flowers this weekend," says Ben Swimm, co-owner of Brown Dog Farm in Palmer. "Our stand is right next to the Persistent Farmer, whose dahlias are starting to come in strong. We sell bouquets of a variety of annuals including snap dragons, stock, sweet peas, calendula, sunflowers, dianthus, poppies, phlox and more!

"It's booming, and folks can find all the local flowers they need."

Rob Wells, the Persistent Farmer, says the dahlia bloom is a little late this year because of a cool spring, but it is harvest time.

And the color options are plentiful.

"We have begun to harvest the first dozens of stems that will soon be hundreds in a multitude of colors and sizes," Wells says. "The red blooms are the first, but we are now getting oranges, pinks, yellows and purples. Last week, I had two 10-inch yellow Kelvin Floodlight dinnerplate (dahlias) and expect to have a few of other varieties soon.

"These late-summer flowers are beginning to show their beauty."

Wells says he has 800 dahlia plants producing blooms.

Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics is quick to admit that Wells and Skimm have the true flower power at the market, but Bean says they have a seection too.

"Brown Dog and Persistent Farmer are more serious about their flowers, but our niche is that we sell by the stem, so people can assemble their own bunch," Bean says. "Many will get a few stems from us to go with a bunch they buy at one of the other stands."

All three vendors — Brown Dog Farm, Persistent Farmer and Arctic Organics —also have plenty of produce available this week too.

Brown Dog will have salad greens, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, beets, radishes, chard and herbs. Wells has a large supply of cucumbers, perfect for making bread and butter pickles.

Bean says the recent rains have been a blessing. "We are thanking the sky for the rain that is finally quenching our fields," she says. "We look forward to the results of the rain soon, in the form of beets, carrots and potatoes."

New this week from Arctic Organics is green and red cabbage, sugar snap peas, fennel and tomatoes. Bean says they'll also have zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, Easter Egg radishes, kohlrabi, rhubarb, Chinese cabbage and scallions, along with plenty of greens and herbs.

Muldoon Farmers Market

"We're averaging more than 40 vendors per week now as the midsummer harvest season heats up," Jerrianne Lowther says.

So, there are lots of options, including carrots, cauliflower, beets, potatoes and tomatoes from multiple vendors. Other vendor highlights include Alley Berry Jams and Jellies with recently harvested strawberry and raspberry flavors, and Anchorage Urban Farm with eggs.

South Anchorage Farmers Market

The South Anchorage market is open both Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday's market at the Dimond Center includes five vendors, while dozens are on hand Saturday.

For Saturday, Barbara Landi says "onions are big already, juicy and sweet. The tops are delicious too and useful raw in salads or cooked in soups and stews. These are the famous 'no-tears' Yensis onions that are mild and sweet due to the lack of sulfur in the glacial soil of the Matanuska Valley."

Other vendor highlights include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard, lettuces, herbs, "plus many berries coming into season," Landi says. "It's really unfair that is happens all at once!"

Rempel Family Farm will be at the market with loads of veggies and cuts of yak meat. New this week at their booth are green beans and new potatoes.

Center Market

Alex Davis of AD Farm says he will have salad mix, beet greens, kale, snow peas, red and green romaine lettuce, cabbage, new Yukon gold and German butterball potatoes, zucchini and rhubarb at the thrice-weekly market.

Davis also has chicken, duck, turkey and Guinea eggs, along with raspberry jam and apple butter. His pork cuts include loin roast, chops, fresh side sliced, ground pork, sausages, fat, hocks and other options.

Thankful Thursdays

Elderberry Essentials, Farm 779 and Duane Clark all have a variety of items at the market this week.

Kate Timmons of Elderberry Essentials says the Manuka elderberry syrup has been popular recently, while Julie Meer of Farm 779 is highlighting peony chaga kombucha, a special batch of Reuben's Kraut and a full-fat cookie snack. Clark will have tomatoes, cucumbers, grass-fed beef and yak, along with Alaska Sprouts items.

Mountain View Farmers Market

This week, the market is partnering with Thread, which is across Mountain View Drive from the market. Thread is highlighting a book party, while the market will have all its regular vendors.

Vendors include Vang Family Farm, Black Bear Farms, Fresh International Gardens, Seldovitch Farm, Kai's Kakes, GMA's Café and Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy.

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., Midtown Mall, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Farmers Market at Airport Heights, 3-7 p.m., 2530 E. 16th Ave.; Northway Mall Wednesday Market, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Northway Mall

Wednesday outside of Anchorage: Highway's End Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Delta Junction; Homer Farmers Market, 2-6 p.m., Ocean Drive; Soldotna Wednesday Market, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Soldotna Creek Park; Tanana Valley Farmer's Market, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks; Wasilla Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Iditapark

Thursday in Anchorage: Mountain View Farmers Market, 3-7 p.m., 3543 Mountain View Drive; Thankful Thursdays market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street

Thursday outside of Anchorage: Peters Creek Farmers Market, 3-8 p.m., American Legion Post 33

Friday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall, 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., Midtown Mall, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; Fourth Avenue Indoor Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 333 W. Fourth Ave.; Muldoon Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 1301 Muldoon Road; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., O'Malley Sports Center; Spenard Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 2555 Spenard Road

Saturday outside of Anchorage: Highway's End Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Delta Junction; Homer Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Ocean Drive; Kenai Saturday Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center; Soldotna Saturday Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., East Corral Avenue and Kenai Spur Highway; Tanana Valley Farmer's Market, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks

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.

Sunday outside of Anchorage: Tanana Valley Farmer's Market, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks