I can almost taste summer. While the grass may still be brown, and the leaves remain hidden, Alaska’s farmers are hard at work in their sheltered greenhouses, planting and planning another fantastic season of growing the 49th state.
This weekend is considered by many to be the official kick-off of Summer Growing 2013, with markets all around Alaska gearing up for a stampede of consumers ready to sample the best produce, fish, eggs, and meat of the Last Frontier, not to mention gardeners anxious to get going with plant starts and veggie plots <raising hand>.
Markets abound, from Fairbanks to Ketchikan, and to simplify matters, I’ve turned to the folks at the Alaska Farmers Market Association and their directory of fabulous farmers-in-the-dell (remember that song?). Heigh-hoh, the dairy-oh, one can even find fresh cheese, butter, and milk if so desired!
Our favorite family haunt is the Spenard Farmer’s Market, located in Midtown Anchorage, a current hotbed of entertainment these days. Open every Saturday through fall, from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., the Spenard folk will regale your family with food, activities, music, and lots and lots of opportunities for people-watching. AK Kid loves to sample everything from homemade candy to fresh bread and muffins; AK Dad loves to hang out near the entertainers (try the Spenerds when they play – retro music at its finest); I just love the atmosphere, that down-home, funky feeling of belonging.
Visiting from out of town? A farmers’ market can provide a dose of real Alaska, with local farmers ready to explain about growing seasons, flower varieties, and fishing. Kids can meet other kids, with everyone on the same plane of community. Lots of Alaska children are vendors at their local markets, too, so checking in with these young farmers is a great way to compare notes about gardens, animals, and opportunities from your own town.
It may be a while until summer really arrives, but in the meantime, there’s a harvest of fun going on near you!