Meat and potatoes downtown

Friday, August 19, 2011 - 08:03
<em><font face="serif">ER farmer’s market, butcher shop go hand-in-hand</font face="serif"></em>
Anchorage’s Tammy Collins holds a head of lettuce while Palmer’s Alex Foytik gathers the rest of her order at the Eagle River farmer’s market, which operates on Saturdays in front of Mike’s Meats.

Veggie lovers and meatheads can go to the same spot in downtown Eagle River to get their fix.

A couple Palmer farmers have been setting up a small market on the sidewalk in front of Mike’s Meats on Business Boulevard this summer, and there’s still a couple weeks left to take advantage of the Valley’s best produce.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” said Palmer farmhand Alex Foytik, 17. “This is coming close to the end (of the season), but they’re still coming in perfect.”

Foytik and Chris Paxton, 15, work at Bob Shoemaker’s farm in Palmer. The teens worked the farm’s stand at the market last Saturday, hawking everything from bright green heads of lettuce to seven-pound zucchinis. Foytik said the farm also produces broccoli, cauliflour, cabbage, kohlrabi, squash, greens, celery, kale, potatoes, beans — and a few more.

“We did have some green onions, but those sold out,” he said.

Also setting up in front of the meat store was Wasilla’s Elizabeth Bradley, who works for Glacier Valley Farm in Palmer. Between the two stands, several hundred pounds of oversized Alaska-grown produce attracted a steady stream of customers to the small mini-mall as a bright late-summer sun shined down.

“On sunny days they come in really fast,” Foytik said.

Inside the air-conditioned interior of the butcher shop, Mike’s Meats employees dished out heaping mounds of burger to some of the same customers who had just purchased veggies. Owner Greg Giannulis said he thinks having a farmer’s market outside is a natural fit for his business.

“Meat and potatoes,” he said.

Giannulis also likes giving people an alternative to the local supermarket, and thinks the farmer’s market and butcher shop combination harkens back to simpler times.

“It’s a get together, you see everybody,” he said. “It’s like a thousand years ago in the markets.”

Peters Creek resident Nadine Thompson bought several vegetables at the market. A gardener herself, Thompson said she knows how much hard work goes into growing vegetables. She likes the idea of supporting those who toil in soil just up the Glenn Highway.

“It’s a lot easier than doing it myself, plus, I’m supporting people who live here,” she said.

Thompson said buying locally is both good for the community and a good bargain this time of year.

“The prices are really reasonable and the size of stuff is enormous and it’s fresh,” she said.

Vendors said they expect the market to continue operating on Saturdays for the next few weeks, as long as there’s still fresh fruit and vegetables coming in. Foytik said beans and potatoes are just now coming in strong.

Gianullis said he thinks produce imported from Outside “tastes like plastic” and that everyone should give the farmer’s market a shot.

“It’s better than the supermarket,” he said.

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected]

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