The birch leaves are growing seemingly by the minute. Farmers markets keep popping up. And the Copper River commercial fishery is scheduled to open on Thursday.
Yes, it's that time of year in Alaska.
And those Copper River salmon should be available in town starting Friday at a variety of locations.
"(The Alaska Department of) Fish and Game is calling for a low return of both kings and sockeyes to the river, let's hope this is not the case," says Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods. "As long as the weather is nice and the fish are in the area they are allowed to fish, we should have fish in here sometime Friday."
Saturday's farmers markets are a good place to look for those fresh Copper River salmon – and other seafood treats.
Fee's Custom Seafoods plans to have salmon and Prince William Sound spot shrimp at the Anchorage Farmers Market.
At the South Anchorage Farmers Market, Arctic Choice expects to have Copper River salmon too, along with side-stripe and spot shrimp, halibut, troll-caught kings, cod, sablefish and other seafood options.
Southall says that despite the somewhat dreary Copper River forecast, seafood options abound.
"The fisherman in Southeast are still going after the ever-wonderful troll king salmon," he says. "We should have fresh trolls in here on Thursday with both head-on fish and fillets in house."
He says fresh halibut is coming in daily and is available as fillets or head-on fish for $10.25 per pound. Cod and black cod are in the store, along with both side-stripe and spot shrimp from the Sound.
And now is the time to sign up for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council's Catch of the Season program. The deadline is Friday.
The spring Catch of the Season seafood options include spot prawns, halibut (5- or 15-pound portions) and coho bites, 2-ounce shelf-stable seafood in resealable packets.
For more about the Catch of the Season program, visit akmarine.org. The seafood is available for pickup in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seward and Homer.
Spenard Farmers Market
There will be loads of options for marketgoers in Spenard on Saturday.
"(We) will be packed with freshly grown goods from local sustainable farmers, including, Simple Living Farm, Chugach Farms, the Ba-lescas Brothers, Dinkels Veggies, Four Tern Farms and Alaska Seeds of Change," market manager Andrea Trent says. "The new must-have salad staple in the world of farmers and gardeners is the delicious orach, which you can find at the Four Tern Farms booth before it sells out."
Trent says there will be plants and starts, honey, food vendors, artists and music by the Spenard Jazz Fest.
Anchorage Farmers Market
Sarah Bean of Arctic Organics says they will have to take a break to be at the market on Saturday.
"Planting is in full swing here at the farm," Bean says. "The leafing-up of the birch trees is a pretty trustworthy greenlight for planting! We encourage gardeners to get their plants hardened off and transplanted as well."
Bean says they will have plenty of vegetable and flower seedlings; a large selection of tomato plants; hanging baskets arugula, basil, and lettuce from our greenhouse; and Italian oyster mushrooms grown by Shaggy Mane Shroomery.
Other vendors include Ed & Tina's Krauts & Pickles, Fee's Seafood, Happy Valley Chickens' eggs, Northern Flowers, Persistent Farmer, Seldovitch Farm, Sun Fire Ridge and Turkey Red Café breads and treats.
South Anchorage Farmers Market
Arthur Keyes says, "Last weekend was one of the busiest opening weeks we have ever had; what a fantastic day!" There is more on tap this weekend, including several new vendors and a stage for musical performances at the market.
Pies the Limit is joining the market, selling 4- and 9-inch fruit pies with hand-formed crusts. Other new vendors this week are Joan's Salmon burgers, Alaska Pasta and local ice cream-maker Wild Scoops.
If your allergies have you down, Earthworks Farm is back at the market with a combination of items to help.
"It looks like pollen season has begun and people have discovered we offer chaga chunks for making tea full of antioxidants," Dee Barker says. "Add a dash of our gourmet honey to sweeten the tea and enjoy a comforting way to deal with a stuffy sinus."
Also look for soaps and body and skincare products made from honey and beeswax.
Alex Davis will be at all three markets this week. And he says he has a "pork country rib special – 5 pounds at the price of 4 pounds."
And his lengthy pork lineup now includes chorizo.
Other items include chicken, duck and goose eggs; raspberry jam; honey; grass-fed beef; live lettuce; carrots and potatoes; and Alaska Sprouts, Tonia's Biscotti, Evie's Brinery and Mosquito Mama products.
Duane Clark and Julie Meer will be at Thursday's market.
Clark will have grass-fed beef and yak, along with honey, jams, salsa, zucchini relish, black cod fillets and scallops.
Meer's Farm 779, which will also be at Saturday's South Anchorage market, will have four varieties of coconut kefir, two kinds of kombucha, beet kvass, vegetable blends and krauts, allergy-free cookies and other items.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local farmers markets
Monday in the Valley: Colony Farmers Market, noon-7 p.m., Palmer Depot
Wednesday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
Wednesday, outside of Anchorage: Highway's End Farmers Market, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Delta Junction; Tanana Valley Farmer's Market, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks
Thursday in Anchorage: Thankful Thursdays market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
Friday in Anchorage: Center Market, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street
Saturday in Anchorage: Anchorage Farmers Market, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., 15th Avenue and Cordova Street; Anchorage Market & Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Third Avenue between C and E streets; Center Market, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., The Mall at Sears, Benson Boulevard and Denali Street; 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; Tanana Valley Farmer's Market, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road, Fairbanks
Sunday in Anchorage: Anchorage Market & Festival, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., 3rd Avenue between C and E streets
Sunday, outside of Anchorage: Tanana Valley Farmer's Market, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 2600 College Road