Texas markets

Local Business Brings Alaskan Fish to Central Texas Markets

Coho salmon is a popular product for Savory Alaska. (Taylor Girtman/Community Impact Journal)

When a customer buys a piece of fish from Savory Alaska, they are supporting a family business in Leander as well as small businesses 2,600 miles away in Alaska.

Owners Nathanael and Sarah Ferguson started their business, Savory Alaska, in 2018 to give friends and family in Texas a taste of Alaska.

When cooking, they often heard comments about the quality of their salmon dinner.

“I’m not a particularly good cook, so it’s not me, it’s the fish,” Nathanael said. “We have such a direct connection to some of the best seafood in the world, and it’s really hard to get that experience in a grocery store.”

Savory Alaska’s fish tastes like the ocean, the owners said, and doesn’t have the “fishy” taste that customers often avoid. Unlike large fisheries, Ferguson’s fish are humanely processed with sustainability in mind. The anglers who work with Savory Alaska come from small, independent businesses, which creates a supportive ripple effect. Because of that, Sarah said, they’re grateful for their repeat customers.

“They don’t just help our business grow; [they’re] also helping several small businesses grow in Alaska,” Sarah said. “I don’t know if our customers still see the big picture, but it means a lot.”

Nathanael and Sarah said they have close relationships with the fishermen and companies they work with in Alaska. Nathanael, originally from Alaska, said he grew up on a fishing boat in an Alaskan fishing village of 60 people. Many are childhood friends of Nathanael, and the close relationships allow customers to request certain specialty fish or fish products, such as salmon necks, fish heads, halibut cheeks, and white meat salmon. . Each fish has a tag that gives details down to the name of the boat that caught the fish.

The pandemic has resulted in logistical challenges for the company, including shipping delays and relocations to Houston. The Fergusons chose to absorb much of the excess costs because their goal, they said, is to offer unique Alaskan fish to budget-conscious customers. When grocery stores sold meat early in the pandemic, many customers sought out fish from Savory Alaska and other Farmer’s Market vendors, leading the business to sell out faster than expected.

Amid the pandemic, the Fergusons embarked on a new business venture: they opened the Savory Farmers Market in June in the community of Travisso. Products include meats, crafts, plants, vegetables and more.

Many vendors lost business during the pandemic as restaurants needed less supply and many local festivals and events were canceled, Sarah said. Some vendors found the farmers’ market to be new production for sales while their regular customers waited.

“It provided another opportunity not just for us, but for all vendors,” Sarah said.

From the sea to the market

Here’s how Savory Alaska’s produce often takes only two days to travel from Alaskan fishing boats to Texas farmers’ markets:

1. Line-caught fish are processed by hand on a boat and frozen.

2. The packaged fish is shipped to Juneau, Alaska.

3. The fish are transported by Alaska Airlines to Austin.

4. Produce is sold at weekly farmers markets in Georgetown and Leander.

Where to find them:

Sun City Farmers Market

9am-12pm on Tuesdays

Savory farmer’s market in Travisso

3-7 p.m. Wednesdays

Wolf Ranch Farmers Market

8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday

Leander Old Town Farmer’s Market

9am-1pm on Saturday