Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Farmers Market.

I spend the summer in Fairbanks which is in the center of Alaska.  It is a hilly forested area with lots of spruce, aspen, bird cherries, birch, willow, alder, and a few others.  This region has areas of permafrost but you look for black spruce to see if it might be there.  If the black spruce is short, there is a good chance there is permafrost under the ground.

Fairbanks has a farmers market that runs from early May till late September because by the beginning of September, the countryside is being hit with frosts.  Many years ago, the farmers market shared space with the fairgrounds.  They had one corner but too many events were held there and parking dropped so people had trouble getting in. So about they moved about 6 years ago to their own place and brought the main building with them.

At the beginning of the season you see mostly starter plants, food, and crafts but as the season progresses, the vegetables make an appearance.  Most of the vegetables are the standard ones like radishes, greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and potatoes but sometimes we get exotic things.

One year, someone managed to grow corn and sold the corn for $1.00 an ear.  yes, I know its a lot more than you pay in the supermarket but it was fresh!  Picked that morning!  We seldom see corn so for anyone up here, that was an absolute treat.

Saturdays, a lady drives in from Manley Hot Springs with oriental eggplant!  Right now she has tomatoes and eggplant but hopefully later in the year she'll offer cantaloupe.  Yes many of the vegetables are more expensive than the store because people have to use greenhouses, coverings, and other things to get the crops started early enough to have spring vegetables ready to sell by the beginning of June.

There is a row of food vendors who sell everything from Vietnamese or French crepes, to hot dogs (regular or reindeer), Mexican food including tamales, tacos, and Middle Eastern.  My favorite tea lady is there with her tea, bubble tea, steamed buns, and Vietnamese sandwiches.  Her stall is always my first stop so I can enjoy my stroll around.  Next to her, is the crepes with a variety of fillings including one with Nutella, bananas, coconut, and almond - my favorite.  She also has a lovely salmon with dill sauce one.

Today I stopped by the Middle Eastern stand for Falafel and it was really good.  Since the farmers market is open Saturdays and Wednesdays for farmers, I stop through the Mexican place on Wednesdays for some freshly cooked tamales.  Just before I head out to work, I order like 30 to go with me.  I freeze them and then eat them with I'm in the mood.

You have a few salsa makers hidden throughout including the lady with an absolutely delicious Pineapple Mango salsa of a medium spice.  There are bakers scattered here and there.  As far as I can tell only one has a great supply of Gluten Free and/or Vegan so she meets the needs of many people with dietary restrictions. Her gluten free vegan peanut butter cookie was excellent.  Then there are the purely Alaskan things like birch or spruce syrup or finely crafted mustard.

Lastly, you have the hand made jewelry, goat's milk soap, wooden furniture or plaques, wooden pens, jams, and other locally produced items.  Often times, hidden between two vendors is the masseuse who will give you a great back rub.

I try to visit most Saturday's and have some to now the vendors who come back year after year.  If you are ever in Fairbanks in the summer, check it out because it is one of those places that will make you feel right at home.

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