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Food and Drink

Alaska farmers working overtime in final weeks of market season

Arthur Keyes of Glacier Valley Farm and the organizer of the markets says the unusual weather created some unexpected growing conditions, which made for eventful markets. This year is the 14th for the South Anchorage market.

“The record temperature, combined with the dry weather, really created some amazing growing conditions here in the Palmer area,” Keyes says. “The growth rate and size of the crops this year was amazing, and I was not surprised to see some of the record-setting vegetables at the Alaska State Fair.

“Probably the biggest trouble this year was the farmers trying to keep up with this incredible production. It was exhausting. It being so dry reduced number and size of the weed populations we had to deal with this season. This reduction in weed pressure was a bonus for all of us Palmer farmers.”

Keyes says he is pleased with the first year for the Midtown market, which is smaller than its cousin to the south, but still popular.

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For the final South Anchorage market, look for many of the regular vendors, including the Rempel Family Farm.

Mark Rempel says the veggie supply includes 11 varieties of potatoes, orange and purple carrots, four types of beets, red and green cabbage, lettuces, sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, Brussels sprouts, parsnips and other late-season crops.

Anchorage Farmers Market: The market on 15th Avenue has two weeks left, and Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics says the work never seems to end on the farm.

“I was washing today’s harvest of carrots until 9 p.m., then there was dinner,” she says. “We are racing the weather this week, knowing that severe frost and snow are in the forecast for this weekend. It’s time to get the remaining valuable crops out of the field, and we’re working long hours to do so.”

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Those valuable crops include six varieties of potatoes, three types of cauliflower, purple sprouting broccoli, leeks, Brussels sprouts red and green cabbage, carrots, broccoli, celery, snow apple turnips, purple top turnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga, tomatoes, greens and herbs.

Center Market: Alex Davis of AD Farm says his tables at the thrice-weekly market will be stocked with veggie, eggs and plenty of pork. He’s even suggesting a “PFD sale” on pork, so stop by and chat.

Pork cuts include chops, roast, fresh side, sausages, hocks, chorizo, fat and soup bones. Eggs are available from chickens, ducks and guinea hens. The veggies include cauliflower, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, beets, carrots and cabbage. Also look for homemade jam, grass-fed beef and cuts of lamb.

From the sea

Just as changing seasons affects the farmers markets, it also impacts the seafood world.

Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods says that fresh spot shrimp from Southeast Alaska should be in the store this weekend. But act quickly, the season is usually only about 10 days, he says.

“Fisherman headed out (Tuesday) morning to target these amazing, sweet, cold-water shrimp,” Southall says. “We are expecting to have fresh head-off spot shrimp in here Thursday or Friday.

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“Salmon is starting to wrap up all over the state. There will be a few fresh sockeyes as well as coho in house this week, with both headed and cleaned fish and fillets available.”

Southall says halibut is still going strong, with plenty of 10- to 20-pound fish available for $9.95 per pound. Fresh cod ($7.95/pound for fillets) and live Alaska oysters from Simpson Bay near Cordova are also in the store. The oysters are $15 a dozen.

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

Local farmers markets

Friday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall

Saturday in Anchorage: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 15th Avenue and Cordova Street; Anchorage Midtown Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., BP Alaska; Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Midtown Mall; South Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., O’Malley Sports Center

Wednesday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall

Thursday in Anchorage: Thankful Thursdays market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Midtown Mall

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