Starved for summer?
Dreaming of dirt, bees and sustainable agriculture? Or just tired of a winter that's looked more like months of breakup?
Take a little trip to growing season with the Alaska Food Policy Council's second Food Festival and Conference on Friday and Saturday at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The full weekend is a combination of educational opportunities along with some food vendors and other fun.
"Friday is a more traditional conference, with panels following four different tracks: food security and policy, food production and harvesting, business and education, and community and tradition," says Samantha Ford, coordinator with Alaska Food Policy Council. "The panels are appropriate for anyone who is interested in learning more about these issues. Saturday focuses on more 'hands-on' workshops, including demonstrations on raising chickens and rabbits, a Kids in the Kitchen workshop, and cooking demonstrations from chefs Kirsten Dixon and Aaron Apling-Gilman.
"We are really excited to have some representatives from Arctic Canada join us to talk about ways we can work together to improve the food system."
Friday's food conference includes presentations on the connection between public health and hunger, indoor growing in Alaska, assessing traditional foods, farmers markets and sustaining Alaska agriculture, among other topics.
Saturday's festival includes demonstrations, how-to sessions, hands-on learning activities, live music, food vendors and a farmers market. Most of the sessions are at the Lucy Cuddy Hall or the Beatrice McDonald Hall.
Among the highlights on Saturday are sessions on growing mushrooms, community gardening in Anchorage, goat milking, raising chickens, food security in the circumpolar north, composting, beekeeping and keeping backyard rabbits.
Tickets to the full conference and festival are $130. Individual tickets to Saturday's food festival are $10 each or $40 for a family. Friday's conference starts at 8:30 a.m.; Saturday's festival is 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. More information is available at https://akfoodpolicycouncil.wordpress.com/festival-conference-2016/.
"The conference provides an opportunity for interested folks to learn about the food system and the exciting work that's going on around Alaska," Ford says. "We hope that participants will leave with an appreciation of all the exciting work going on around food and that they will be motivated to get involved with the work being done by the AFPC and other Alaska organizations. On Friday evening we host a cocktail party where guests can relax, connect and, hopefully, collaborate on new ideas."
At the markets
The Center Market will be hopping on Wednesday and Saturday again this week.
Attending both markets are: Earthworks Farm, Sweet Caribou, A.D. Farm, Monica's Confection Connection, La Grassa and Farm 779.
Earthworks Farm will have their full line of Alaska-grown beeswax and honey body care products. "From our signature moisturizing cream, to convenient lotions, lotion bars, deodorants and lip balms, it is increasingly evident that beeswax and honey provide significant healing and protection where human skin meets the environment," says owner Dee Barker.
La Grassa has a new white wine and saffron cavatelli at this week's markets. Other pasta options include caramelized onion, Alaska potato and asiago ravioli; vegan-roasted Alaska parsnip and mushroom ravioli; Alaska squash, goat cheese and almond ravioli; Parmesan and Alaska potato gnocchi; along with the original, spinach and lemon pepper hand-cut noodles.
Sweet Caribou will have a wide variety of macaron flavors at the market this week, but owner James Strong says the "highlight is the Mexican hot chocolate -- cinnamon shell with a cayenne Belgium chocolate ganache. My favorite macaron, it has a subtle spiciness that provides a little zing at the end of the bite, setting off the cinnamon and the richness of the Belgium ganache." Other flavors this week include dairy-free Almond Joy, chocolate vanilla, earl gray, passionfruit, triple lemon, ginger lime, lavender milk chocolate, chocolate marshmallow and pistachio chocolate. They also will have three varieties of cupcakes, Belgium chocolate brownies, toffee blondies and hazelnut chocolate brown butter and sea salt Rice Krispies treats.
Julie Meer of Farm 779 says they are "bringing back our springtime favorite -- quinoa cacao cookies -- healthy, nutritious snacking chocolate goodness." Meer says quinoa is naturally gluten-free and contains iron, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber. "It is one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein and comprised of all pernine essential amino acids," she says.
Farm 779 also has a wide selection of kefirs, kvass, kraut, their "perfect snack" and coconut-based body products. Farm 779 will be at the MTA Sports Center on Friday.
A.D. Farm will have its usual lineup of pork items, including chops, sausage, loin roast, bones and fat; dog treats; vegetables including carrots in four colors, beets, cabbage and potatoes; eggs; Alaska Sprouts items including tofu, basil and micro greens; and several barley products.
Rempel Family Farm will be at Saturday's market with orange, red and purple carrots; three varieties of beets; 11 kinds of potatoes; two types of winter squash; daikon radishes; snow apple turnips; parsnips; green cabbage; and organically raised yak meat.
Duane Clark from Country Health Foods will be at Wednesday's market with ground lamb, grass-fed beef and yak, salsa, jams and zucchini relish. Clark also hosts Duane's Top Shelf Artisan Market at the MTA Sports Center in the Valley on Friday and Saturday.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at email@example.com.
Local farmers markets
Monday in the Valley: Depot Farm Market, noon-6 p.m., Palmer Depot
Wednesday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
Friday in the Valley: Duane's Top Shelf Farmers Market, 2-7 p.m., 1507 N. Double B St., Palmer
Saturday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
Saturday in the Valley: Duane's Top Shelf Farmers Market, noon-7 p.m., 1507 N. Double B St., Palmer