Even though winter temperatures are sweeping the state, a local farmers’ market in Palmer is just starting up. It features some surprising products guaranteed to dispel the winter-time blahs.
It’s a sunny, but very chilly, Monday at Palmer’s antique railroad depot. Inside, the aroma of fresh bread meets the lunchtime shoppers just starting to come in, while a woman behind a long table arranges a display of vegetables
“We have some turnips, lots of purple topped turnips today. And I’ve got some green tomatoes, that are local. They are grown from Acme tomatoes over in Wasilla. I’ve got these beautiful Alaska grown carrots, and yellow carrots and purple, blue and yellow carrots. I’ve got some red cabbage. And of course I have lots of spuds!”
That’s Julie Amgwert. Her potatoes are of many varieties, sweet, gold, white and red. And she’s selling tiny pumpkinettes
“Just like squash. They are delicious. Some people call them sugar pumpkins.”
There are other produce stands here as well, but there is so much more: everything from Baklava to herbs packed in transparent plastic containers.
Baker Penny Hart displays her home made sourdough round loaves. There are several different kinds, but one with a striking red and white crust stands out
” Rooster bread is made with Siracha hot chili sauce. Siracha is just a really good, hot, flavorful sauce. But what’s really neat, is that when you eat something hot, and then you eat bread, it cools it down. But when you put something Siracha in the bread, you actually get to taste the flavors in the sauce before the heat hits you. “
Yikes, that’s some hot sauce! But the idea of Rooster bread is unusual. And original.
Transplanted Mississippian Gail Louvier has some original ideas of her own… and they all revolve around chocolate. She designs chocolate bars made from Belgian dark chocolate, and they are wrapped and displayed at her booth.
“This is crushed coffee beans and ginger snaps cookies. And for breakfast one morning, I was drinking my coffee one morning and eating cookies. I think of everything in terms of ‘can I put chocolate with that.'”
And for the health conscious — the buzz word is probiotics. Lani Erie heads Rainbow Veggies, a business that sells raw, fermented vegetables steeped in a preserving brine
“They are not cooked, and they are not heat processed. They are actually blended in a brine that contains lacto-fermentation cultures. So it’s lacto-bacillius and lplanterum.”
Market organizer Carl Brooke says in only three weeks, the market is drawing a lot of attention.
“But right now we have hydroponic lettuce. We have microgreens, we have sprouts. So we have some good fresh veggies that you can buy that were grown today you an buy. I mean, sprouts are still alive, they are still growing. It’s some good, fresh stuff. “
Brooke is a Willow real estate agent, and he says it’s time that the Valley folks got a showcase for their products that doesn’t involve traveling to Anchorage and back. He says people are invited to sell at the market from all over the state, as long as their product is Alaska Grown or Alaska Made.
And it’s a place where fifteen year old entrepreneur Matt Rosendhal is building up a business carving scrollwork designs on exotic woods. Rosendahl’s custom designs give the finished artwork the look of lace, rather than hardwood.
“I use zebra wood, its an African wood, and African sapele. I use baltic birch ply for the bigger, more delicate pieces. And I use cherry and African padauk, which is an orageish wood.”
That’s one more thing you don’t see every day. The Palmer Indoor Farmer’s Market happens on Mondays, 11 am to 7 pm until May at the railroad depot.