Monday, September 20, 2010

Tanana Valley Farmers Market

Adam & I have been having lots of fun visiting the Tanana Valley Farmers Market every weekend.  It's a nice, reasonably sized, market with fresh produce and handmade crafts.  Many of the farms are from the Fairbanks area, although people travel from long distances to sell their wares here.  (The Tanana Valley is about the size of the state of Indiana.)

The market is open twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays, from May through September.  So our last trip to the market was this past Saturday...and we were kinda sad that it's over for the season. It was a fun way to start the weekend.  

It's impressive how many different types of produce flourish in Alaska.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I certainly didn't expect this variety at this latitude.  It's those long summer hours that support the growth (I've learned).  Even though it is a short growing season (April - September) having such extended growing hours seem to make up for it.  We saw blueberries, lingonberries, beets, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, apples, onions, leeks, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peas, and more! There were booths of local honey, herbs and oils, organic smoothies, jams & preserves, cheeses, baked goods, plants.  You could also buy all sorts of ethnic foods - Chinese food, Mexican food, Crepes.  There were artists of all sorts - painters, photographers, woodworkers, candle-makers, fiber artists, jewelry arts.  It's so much to look at that you have to wander around at least two or three times.   

So far the reigning favorites at the market have been, the Honey Bakery where we discovered delicious corn meal cookies.  They are light and crispy and a bag of five of them seems to disappear very quickly!  The other favorite, particularly Brandon's, is the sugar corn...which I'm assuming is the same as kettle corn.  It seems that everyone in town stops there on Saturday to get a bag.  It smells very good, that's for sure!

It's so nice to know that visiting the farmers market is fairly commonplace for most Fairbanks-area residents.  It certainly made a difference for Adam & I.  We planned our meals around what vegetables we wanted to get at the market.  I only wish there was an indoor facility so that it could continue longer into the fall season.  I know that there is snow expected, but it's been so sunny it's hard to really believe it.

Adam and I have strong views about eating locally, not only is it good for you, but it is good for the environment and good for the local economy.  We like to support our farmers.  When shopping, we tried to patronize different booths.  If we bought beets from one family, we got cheese curd from another.  It felt good and tasted good!  And it lasts longer because it's fresher - so it's a better value! Some of our local grocery stores do use "Alaska Grown" produce, and I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for those signs!  Meantime, I'll be anxiously awaiting the return of the market!

1 comment:

  1. I do love farmers markets as well, but we don't seem to eat vegetables fast enough in this house :-P I think it is because I am not really motivated to cook... you must teach me more about cooking when you are home :)