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SitkaSoundSuppersLogoEating local in Sitka can be an amazing experience. We have wide variety of high-quality seafood, including five types of salmon, halibut, blackcod, dozens of varieties of rockfish, ling cod, Alaska king crab, Dungeness crab, scallops, spot prawns, yum. There also is Sitka black-tailed deer and other wild game. And there’s nothing like the taste of fresh produce from the garden, and our berries are exquisite.

Now you can experience the best of Sitka’s local food scene with Sitka Sound Suppers: A Chef-To-Table Experience, a fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network. (NOTE: Please see the update below.)

Three Sitka chefs — Kathy Jones (Westmark/Dock Shack), Edith Johnson (Fly-In Fish Inn), and Jackie Barmoy (former owner of Loaves and Fishes in Seattle) — have volunteered their talents to prepare a totally local meal that will be brought to your Sitka home for you to enjoy.

  • Donate at the $500 level and you receive a local Sitka dinner for two people.
  • Donate at the $1,000 level and you receive a local Sitka dinner for four people.
  • Donate at the $2,000 level and you receive a local Sitka dinner for eight people.

We are planning on preparing just one special dinner at each donation level, so get in on the promotion early. (UPDATE: We have decided to allow multiple dinners for each donation level instead of a single dinner. We didn’t know how many people would respond, so didn’t want to overtask our chefs, who are donating their time and talents to this promotion. So, even though we already have a donor at the $500 level, we can accommodate a second and/or third donor at that level.)

The Sitka Sound Suppers fundraiser launched on July 16 and ends after our final Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Sept. 12. The winners of our meals will be connected to our chefs, so they can agree on a menu and date for the meal during the Fall 2015 harvest season (late September to November). All meals will be prepared and served in Sitka, Alaska. You can learn more about the Sitka Sound Suppers fundraiser by watching this video.

The funds raised by this promotion will help the Sitka Local Foods Network continue its work promoting local foods in Sitka and Southeast Alaska through the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden, and our education programs. As the organization has grown and matured, we’ve reached a point where we need to hire a part-time staff person to handle some of the daily duties of our organization. Your donations will go into a fund to help us eventually be able to hire that staff person.

Your support for the Sitka Local Foods Network is greatly appreciated. Thanks.

By the way, if you want to contribute to the Sitka Local Foods Network but not receive one of the Sitka Sound Suppers, you can go to our main fundraising page on Razoo.com (a fundraising/crowdfunding site for nonprofit organizations) and donate in any amount over $10 there. Your online donation is secure and tax-deductible (we have federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status). Thanks again.

• Sitka Sound Suppers information flier (opens as PDF file)

FishtoSchool

The Fish to Schools program needs help from Sitka’s commercial fishermen. The program needs a few hundred pounds of coho salmon to help make Fish to Schools meals for Sitka students during the upcoming 2015-16 school year. The program also is seeking photos of commercial fishermen at work, which can be used to teach the students more about how the fish got to their plates.

The coho salmon donation period is Monday. Aug. 24, through Monday, Aug. 31. To donate, commercial fishermen can sign up and indicate how many pounds they want to donate when they offload at Seafood Producers Cooperative or Sitka Sound Seafoods during the donation period. The program can only accept commercially caught fish (no sport or subsistence fish). The hope is to get enough coho donated that locally caught salmon can be offered to students at least once a week.

The Sitka Fish To Schools project (click here to see short video) got its start as a community wellness project at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit, and now is managed by the Sitka Conservation Society. It started by providing a monthly fish dish as part of the school lunch as Blatchley Middle School, and since then has grown to feature regular fish dishes as part of the lunch programs at Baranof Elementary School, Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary SchoolBlatchley Middle School, Sitka High SchoolPacific High School (where the alternative high school students cook the meals themselves), the SEER School, and Mount Edgecumbe High School.

FishtoSchool2In addition to serving locally caught fish meals as part of the school lunch program, the Fish To Schools program also brings local fishermen, fisheries biologists and chefs to the classroom to teach the kids about the importance of locally caught fish in Sitka. The program received an innovation award from the Alaska Farm To Schools program during a community celebration dinner in May 2012, and now serves as a model for other school districts from coastal fishing communities. In May 2014, the Fish to Schools program released a guidebook so other school districts in Alaska could create similar programs.

For more information, contact Sophie Nethercut of the Sitka Conservation Society, sophie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509. You also can contact Beth Short-Rhoads at 738-9942 or elianise@yahoo.com. Photos and captions of commercial fishermen working out on the water should be sent to Sophie.

Specialty food business

Are you interested in starting a specialty food business? The University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and the UAF Alaska Sea Grant program are teaming up to offer a five-class online course about how to start a specialty foods course in October.

The class is only available online and it will be from 5:30-8 p.m. on Oct. 5, 7, 12, 14, and 19. You must attend all five classes during the times they are offered. The course costs $50 and is limited to the first 25 who register from around the state. More details about the class and its technology requirements can be found here. The instructors will be Quentin Fong of the Alaska Sea Grant program and Kate Idzorek of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service.

This course is intended for individuals interested in starting and operating a specialty food business to sell foods under the DEC Cottage Foods Exemption, a temporary DEC permit, DEC-permitted food production businesses to sell wholesale in Alaska or DEC-permitted Mobile Food Units (food trucks). This course is NOT intended for individuals starting or operating a restaurant or starting an interstate or international wholesale food business. It is for people who want to make specialty food products, such as jams and jellies, handmade chocolates, salsa, pickled fish, or operate a food truck. Many specialty food products are perfect for selling at the Sitka Farmers Market.

To register online, go to http://bit.ly/ces-workshops. For more information, contact Kate Idzorek of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 1-907-474-5391 (Fairbanks number).

End of May 114

Terrence McCrobie builds three Hoonah Healing Community Garden plots for the Hoonah Senior Center in May 2015. (Photo by Kathy McCrobie)

By Kathy McCrobie
SEARHC Traditional Foods Project Assistant

Creating the Hoonah Healing Community Garden was Bob Starbard’s idea. He is the Hoonah Indian Association‘s (HIA) Tribal Administrator. He worked with Bob Christensen from Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), and by 2012 our first plots had been built.

I was hired by SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) as the Traditional Foods Project Assistant. When I took over for the 2013 growing season, I really had no gardening experience. I posted notices for the community to let them know the garden was available. We had 22 plots available for growing, and that summer half were in production.

Many community members made important contributions; our gravel business donated two large loads of fine sand and the time and skills shared made building the garden easier. Soon there was a dirt sifter to screen out the many rocks in the local dirt and heavy equipment leveled the ground. The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District in Juneau sold us 14 berry plants at a discounted price. A community member donated 30 strawberry plants. Our space was soon coming together.

Most of our gardeners have prior gardening experience. Some used their own soil. Last year the zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, beets, bush beans and snap peas did well. The biggest challenge came from the ravens. After putting in starts, out of their curiosity, they would fly down when everyone left and pull them up.

We ask that our gardeners not use fish in their compost so the bears won’t come by to check us out and so far the deer have left the plots alone. Lia Heifetz from the Sustainable Southeast Partnership was a big help with our garden last year; she acquired some fence to protect our plots from critters. We hope to get the fence up this year. Lia also came to the William and Mary Johnson Youth Center to teach the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hoonah about composting with her worm bin and then we gathered seaweed for the garden.

For 2015 we are off to a great start with six returning and four new gardeners. Community members donated 20 raspberry plants and 20 gooseberry plants. Through the program, I purchased and planted a Nadine plum tree and a Terry Berry apple tree. My husband volunteers at the Hoonah Senior Center and is helping me with the traditional foods plot, as well as planting three plots for the seniors.

I just received an email from Lauren Hughey, a Community Health Educator based out of SEARHC Sitka. What exciting news! They just received a diabetes grant carry-forward. With the approval of this grant, Hoonah will receive $1,650 with the main goal of reducing the financial barriers to gardening for American Indian/Alaska Native diabetic patients. This grant will pay for plot fees and gardening supplies in the community garden: soil, seeds, raised-bed repair supplies, shovels, pots, gloves, buckets, and cold frames.

If you are ever in Hoonah please stop by to see us.   The garden is in town next to the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Sharing about the Hoonah Healing Community Garden lets our and other communities be informed that food security starts with us. Also that it really does work! For additional information, feel free to contact me at kathymc@searhc.org.

A slideshow of Hoonah community garden photos from former Sitka Local Foods Network board member Cathy Lieser is posted below.

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Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Local Foods Network Board Member Brandie Cheatham, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Phyllis Moore at the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Moore sells jams and jellies, baked goods, and a variety of knitted items from hats and potholders to Afghan blankets. She received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don’t forget the Sitka Slug Races take place at 12:30 p.m. at the Aug. 29 Sitka Farmers Market. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Assistant Manager Francis Wegman-Lawless, left, and Sitka Local Foods Network Board Member Brandie Cheatham, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Phyllis Moore at the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the 2015 summer on Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. Moore sells jams and jellies, baked goods, and a variety of knitted items from hats and potholders to Afghan blankets. She received a gift bag with fresh greens and fresh rhubarb. This is the eighth year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian St. Don’t forget the Sitka Slug Races take place at 12:30 p.m. at the Aug. 29 Sitka Farmers Market. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork, or follow us on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/SitkaLocalFoods. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sunny weather was the highlight of the fourth Sitka Farmers Market of the season, held Saturday, Aug. 15, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

We had a few new vendors, and a few who hadn’t been around so far this year. But we also were missing a few of our regulars due to travel schedules and a funeral. Still, there was a lot of fresh produce for sale as the gardens are starting to hit peak production.

Don’t forget that our next Sitka Farmers Market will feature the inaugural Sitka Slug Races, so catch your slugs and train them for the races. The next market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the ANB Founders Hall.

A reminder, due to health codes we can’t allow any pets in the ANB Founders Hall or the parking lot other than service dogs. We also don’t allow tobacco (smoking or chewing) at the Sitka Farmers Market because this is a health event (our event started out as a Sitka Health Summit project).

Finally, if you’ve ever wanted to be a vendor you can learn more by clicking this link or sending an email to sitkafarmersmarket@gmail.com. We always need new vendors, especially those selling produce from their home gardens, commercially caught fish or locally baked bread.

A slideshow from the fourth Sitka Farmers Market is posted below.

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P2P_logo

Two Sitka residents with agriculture projects have been named among the 12 semifinalists in the annual Path to Prosperity economic development contest for Southeast Alaska.

This is the third year of the contest, and Bobbi Daniels’ The Sawmill Farm project has been a semifinalist each year. New to the program is the Sitka Seedling Farms project by Sitka Local Foods Network Vice-President Matthew Jackson (who goes by Jackson). A total of 28 projects promoting economic development in Southeast Alaska were entered this year, and more details about the 12 semifinalist projects can be found here.

The year-long Path to Prosperity program provides budding entrepreneurs with the technical assistance they need to develop business plans and follow them through to successful businesses. The program is sponsored by Haa Aaní Community Development Fund, Inc. and The Nature Conservancy, with the goal to develop community resiliency by supporting Southeast Alaska entrepreneurs with creating a business plan.

Applications were solicited in March, with an informational webinar in April and application due date of May 31. The entries were whittled down to 12 semifinalists in July. The semifinalists will attend a three-day business boot camp in September, then they have until Dec. 1 to submit a business plan.

A panel of five judges from the business community will select two winning business plans in February, which each receive $40,000 seed funding for consulting and technical assistance to develop their businesses. The remaining 10 semifinalists will then compete through social media for the People’s Choice Award, which will give an additional $40,000 to one semifinalist.

Here is the list of the 2015 Path to Prosperity semifinalists:

  1. Alaska Accessible Adventures, Juneau, Lindsay Halvik
  2. AlaskaSmart Biodiesel, Hoonah, Jeff Hastings
  3. Columbine Farm, Haines, Spencer Douthit
  4. Micki’s House, Hydaburg, Margaret O’Neil
  5. Northern Edge Craftworks, Juneau, Reid Harris
  6. Petersburg Indian Association, Petersburg, Marco Banda
  7. Sandbar Bed and Breakfast, Metlakatla, Karen Thompson
  8. Sitka Seedling Farms, Sitka, Matthew Jackson
  9. Skya’ana Coffee Co., Klawock, Tina Steffen
  10. The Salty Pantry Market and Deli, Petersburg, Mindy Anderson
  11. The Sawmill Farm, Sitka, Bobbi Daniels
  12. Wrangell Cooperative Association, Wrangell, Aaron Angerman

Slug Races Sign

The Sitka Local Foods Network education committee invites Sitkans to take part in Sitka’s first slug races.

“Do slugs move into your garden faster than a speeding bullet? Are you sure your slugs are breeding with Olympic runners and pole vaulters? Could you have the next winner of the Triple Crown? The Sitka Local Foods Network invites you to come and put your fastest slug to the test against Sitka’s best!” race organizer and SLFN board member Michelle Putz said.

The SLFN education committee will hold its inaugural Sitka Slug Races at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 29, at the fifth Sitka Farmers Market of the summer at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian St.). Registration for the race is from 10 a.m. until noon.

Those interested in participating  will pay $5 per slug entered into the race. Participants are encouraged to bring their own fast slugs, but “rental slugs” will also be available at the race. The participants with the three fastest slugs in Sitka will be crowned and awarded a certificate and commemorative pin.

“Slug races help to support Sitka Local Foods Network’s mission to increase the amount of locally produced and harvested food in the diets of Southeast Alaskans,” Michelle said. “By getting slugs out of our gardens and into the race arena, we are saving valuable cabbage, kale, onions, and other foods from their hungry mouths. And we’ll find out which slugs were tromping to and through our gardens the quickest!”

We ask those who bring slugs to only bring black slugs, which are not native to Sitka, and not the California banana slugs which are native (can grow to three inches or longer, usually yellow or shades of green). Also, please don’t release your slugs in new places. We don’t want to introduce any invasive species, and the black slugs (sometimes brown or gray) are pretty destructive to Sitka gardens.

Funds raised will be used to support the network’s projects and activities including family garden mentoring, garden education classes, the Sitka Farmers Market, and the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden.

For more information about helping with the race or the SLFN education committee, please contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708.

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