Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park

The Tongass National Forest, Sitka Ranger District, is reminding people that any berry-picking or other gathering for commercial use on national forest lands requires a special-use permit. The rules clarification comes after a sign recently was posted outside a grocery store offering payment for salmonberries. Personal-use berry-picking and other gathering is allowed, so long as no money changes hands.

“Here is an interim policy for special forest products attached (see link below), but it is long and cumbersome for most to read,” District Ranger Perry Edwards wrote. “The short version is you can collect berries, mushrooms, etc., for personal use in a national forest. But once you sell them it becomes a commercial use and a person needs to have a special forest product permit. So far, no one has officially gone through the process to get one from the Sitka Ranger District, as it does take some time for the USDA Forest Service to do the analysis and the public process.”

The interim rules and regulations run several pages, but the two paragraphs below help clarify Special Forest Products and commercial uses.

  • Special Forest Products – Special forest products (SFPs) are defined as products derived from non-timber biological resources that are used for subsistence, personal, spiritual, educational, commercial, and scientific use. SFP resources include, but are not limited to: mushrooms, boughs, Christmas trees, bark, ferns, moss, burls, berries, cones, conks, herbs, roots, and wildflowers. Also included are cuttings (such as of willow used for restoration) and transplants (as for landscaping purposes). SFP resources exclude saw-timber, pulpwood, cull logs, small round-wood, house logs, utility poles, minerals, animals, animal parts, rocks, water and soil.
  • Commercial Uses — SFP resources that are sold, processed for sale, or used in business operations are considered commercial use. Research collections for bioprospecting or other purposes by entities that do not have a cooperative agreement with the Forest Service or other federal government agency or department are considered commercial use and are subject to the same permitting procedures and requirements as other commercial uses. Commercial use on the Tongass National Forest is subject to the standards and guidelines in the Tongass Forest Plan, national and regional SFP policies, and the following management guidelines. In all cases, commercial use should not displace subsistence, personal or other non-commercial uses.

The Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has similar rules for harvesting from Alaska State Parks, and earlier this summer began requiring a special permit for gathering seaweed at the Halibut Point Recreation Area in Sitka.

• Interim Special Forest Products Policy for Tongass National Forest, Sitka Ranger District



Want to learn how to grow or gather your own food, or teach others about growing and gathering food? Your Sitka Local Foods Network invites Sitkans to learn more at an education committee meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

Those interested in learning more about or volunteering on Sitka Local Foods Network education projects are invited to attend. SLFN board members and volunteers will discuss the past and future of our Family Garden Mentor Project, begin to plan the 2014-15 “It’s time to …” garden classes, and discuss new opportunities for projects such as a home business garden mentoring project and a future garden tour. Those interested in learning more and volunteering are encouraged to attend.

For those who cannot attend the meeting or want more information, contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708.

Members of the panel of judges sample one of the recipes in the Fish To Schools Recipe Contest at the Sitka Seafood Festival on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at the Sheldon Jackson Campus/Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

Members of the panel of judges sample one of the recipes in the Fish To Schools Recipe Contest at the Sitka Seafood Festival on Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014, at the Sheldon Jackson Campus/Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

Recipe Contest FinalKathy Hope Erickson claimed top honors in the Fish To Schools recipe contest during the Sitka Seafood Festival, and two younger chefs tied for second place.

Kathy submitted a recipe for salmon and potato patties, which she served with a special chili ketchup, and won a gift certificate to Ludvig’s Bistro for her efforts. Tying for second place were Zoe Trafton, age 8, with her recipe for salmon mac and cheese, and Ava Newell (with her father Mike), age 8, with her recipe for coconut pecan rockfish with a blueberry dipping sauce. Zoe and Ava both won t-shirts. A panel of nine judges, including a couple of students, rated the recipes.

In all, eight local chefs submitted recipes for the contest, which was hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, which coordinates the Sitka Fish To Schools Program to put more healthy local seafood into school lunches. The other recipes included sesame-veggie salmon cakes with tangy apple slaw by Beth Short-Rhoads and her daughter Kat Rhoads, age 6; salmon pinwheels from Judi Ozment; healthy salmon fish fingers from Anna Bisaro; baked salmon with dill from Matt Jones; and salmon-veggie wraps from Charles Bingham.

The purpose of the contest was to collect kid-friendly fish entree recipes that can be made for school lunches as part of the Fish to Schools program. The dishes should be healthy and easy to make (no special appliances). Baking the fish is preferred over frying, and recipes should be low in sodium and fat. The top seafood dishes will be used in school lunches at the Sitka School District, the state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School, and the private SEER School.

The top three recipes are posted below, and all eight recipes can be found in the attachment. For more information about the recipe contest and the Sitka Fish To Schools Program, click this link or call Sophie Nethercut or Tracy Gagnon of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509.

• 2014 Fish To Schools Recipe Contest Submissions (attachment includes all eight recipes)

School Lunch Salmon Patties With Chili Ketchup (Makes 12)

Winning Recipe submitted by Kathy Hope Erickson, Sitka

  • KathyHopeErickson1 pint jar salmon
  • 2 cups cooked potatoes
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon garlic seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon onion seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salad herbs – dried
  • 12 Ritz crackers

Mix all, form into patties, fry in heated vegetable oil, or alternatively, spray with cooking spray and bake in 400-degree oven.

Chili Ketchup

For dipping fish patties: Combine 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 4 1/2 teaspoon onion, and 3/4 cup ketchup.


Coconut Pecan Rockfish With Blueberry Dipping Sauce

2nd place: Submitted by Mike and Ava Newell (age 8), Sitka

  • MikeAndAvaNewel1 lb. rockfish fillets
  • 1 T coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 C shredded coconut
  • 2 T plain breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place rockfish on baking sheet. Pour coconut milk over fish. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Combine pecans, coconut, and bread crumbs in a bowl. Press coconut mixture onto top of fish fillets. Bake for 15-20 minutes, just until fish is opaque throughout

Blueberry Dipping Sauce

  • 1 C wild blueberries, rinsed
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/4 C coconut milk
  • 1/2 T cornstarch
  • salt

Place blueberries and water in small saucepan. Simmer until berries burst. Strain berries through fine mesh sieve into small bowl. Add coconut milk to bowl. Pour sauce back into saucepan. Mix cornstarch with a little bit of cold water until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to sauce. Stir and heat until boiling. Continue to boil until desired thickness. Serve with rockfish


Salmon Mac ‘n Cheese
2nd place: Submitted by Zoe Trafton (age 8), Sitka

  • ZoeTrafton1 cup cooked salmon, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar and jack recommended)
  • 2 cups shell pasta
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • ½ cup finely chopped mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • ½ cup Alfredo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

Boil shells in medium pot. Sauté onions and mushrooms for three minutes. Add salmon to mushrooms and onions. Drain water and add pasta. Add cheese. Add Alfredo sauce and hot sauce. Mix carefully. Add spices and serve.


ssflogo2Beautiful weather greeted the fifth annual Sitka Seafood Festival on July 31-Aug. 3, with a nice sunny day on Saturday, Aug. 2, when most of the events took place.

Saturday’s events included a marathon and half-marathon, parade, fish tote races, Island Highland Games, marketplace, cooking demonstrations, and a Fish To Schools recipe contest at the Sheldon Jackson Campus/Sitka Fine Arts Camp.

In addition, there was a garden tour and showing of the film Red Gold on Thursday, the annual five-course banquet dinner on Friday, a concert featuring the Yup’ik soul group Pamyua on Saturday night, and a golf tournament on Sunday.

Below is a slideshow featuring scenes from Saturday’s events.

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At this Saturday’s Sitka Farmers Market, Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel will host a live fermentation booth where she will give out samples of locally made sauerkraut and information on how to ferment at home.

Fermentation is an ancient process where microorganisms in our food extend their usefulness and enhance flavor. Fermentation is used in a wide variety of food from around the world, including the yeast that helps make bread, wine, beer, cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, coffee, soy sauce, and more. Sandor Katz, who wrote The Art of Fermentation, calls it “the flavorful space between fresh and rotten.”

Another advantage to fermentation is it can extend the shelf life of many foods. “It’s not forever, like canned foods that you can put into a pantry or storm cellar and forget about for 10 years and still eat it,” Katz said. “These foods are alive, they’re dynamic, but they’re extremely effective strategies for preserving food through a few seasons, which is really the point.”

Recently, one of the big discussions about fermentation is how it can help replenish healthy gut bacteria, especially when items are fermented by lactic acid bacteria. These helpful probiotics are essential in an age where so many of our foods include chlorine in the water, antibiotic drugs, antibacterial cleaning products, and other sanitizing methods that kill healthy bacteria with the bad.

In addition to learning how simple it is to make sauerkraut, visitors to the booth will be able to learn about and taste kombucha. Bring a small jar to the market so you can take a kombucha starter home with you.  This week’s Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the market.


SitkaFarmersMarketSign(This is part of a new series of “Meet your vendors” articles, where Sitka Local Foods Network Intern McLane Ritzel is writing features about our regular Sitka Farmers Market vendors.) 

A couple of miles outside of town, up Sawmill Creek Road, there is a thriving garden with everything from fennel and radishes to kohlrabi and raspberries. Lori Adams operates the Down-to-Earth U-Pick Garden at 2103 Sawmill Creek Rd.

Adams grew up on a farm in Oregon and met her husband Dale in high school through the church community. The couple came to Sitka in 1986 and worked as commercial fishermen. They now have two sons, Ben, 24, and Levi, 18. Ben has a degree in biology and fisheries, and works at the Sitka Sound Science Center as a Chum Resource Coordinator. Levi is studying foreign languages at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The family lived on a boat for 11 years (as Adams says, “It’s a great way to start out here.”) and moved around before settling down on Sawmill Creek Road.

In 2009, Adams started Down-to-Earth U-Pick, shortly after the Sitka Local Foods Network started the Sitka Farmers Market. Adams credits Florence Welsh, the “matriarch of the Sitka gardening community,” for teaching her much of the gardening knowledge she knows today. They were neighbors on Halibut Point Road before Adams moved up Sawmill Creek Road with her family.

LoriAdamsGiftBasketAdams had a serious passion for gardening from the beginning, but was frustrated that fruits and vegetables would come and go, and were not consumed. She wanted to share her produce with others. She contacted Wells Williams in the Sitka Planning Department with her idea and he responded, “You want to do WHAT?” Perplexed at first, Williams soon jumped onboard. He helped to rewrite the city bylaws so Adams would be able to start the U-Pick, and she was approved.

Although the garden requires a lot of upkeep, she loves it and spends hours every day tending to it. Dale, a hunting guide, often asks her, “Why can’t you just be a carrot lady?” And she answers that providing the community with diverse locally grown produce is her true passion. Adams likes to provide a variety of vegetables so that people can see what grows well in this climate. “There is always something someone can pick.” Sometimes one thing will get over-picked, but it’s never been a real problem. Her garden is so successful in part because she is particular in her composting. “I know what’s here, and I bring in the cleanest possible [additions].” She has a family of ducks on the property that help perform slug control and add fertilizer to the beds.

In operating the only registered U-Pick garden in Sitka, Adams has overcome many obstacles. Despite the fact that locals are positive towards her about what she’s doing, she says, “People who are really into local food aren’t my regular customers because they grow their own food, but they do support me.” She has some regulars to the garden, but often her clientele consists of families with kids who usually get their produce from the grocery store, but like to tour the garden. Adams tries her best to keep up with what the grocery stores are charging and seems to be doing a great job. “I’m not a making a living here, but it pays for itself.” Her fennel runs $4 each, peapods are $5 per plastic crate, and carrots are 20 cents each, no matter the size.

She encourages anyone and everyone to start a U-Pick and would love to help them with the venture. “It would be great if we could have U-Picks like this become more of a feasible option for the community [through having more people start them].”

LoriAdamsWithBookIn the future, Adams hopes to expand into all of her usable property, and either continue with her U-Pick garden or possibly transition to farming and supply for restaurants and other similar institutions.

You might have recently spotted Lori driving down the road in the newest addition to her family: a 1946 Chevy pickup with running gear from a 1991 Caprice. A few years back while in her late 40s, she decided that for her 50th birthday, she was going to buy herself an old truck. She has always loved them. “I grew up on a farm. I think it’s just part of the nostalgia.” Her and Dale drove all the way from Kentucky, where they bought the truck, to Seattle, to send it home on the barge.

When she’s not gardening or driving her sweet new ride, Adams likes to crochet and design patterns, scrapbook, and when traveling, watch the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri, as there isn’t a television at home. One of her favorite go-to breakfast meals consists of a toasted bagel (she used cranberry-orange the other day) with real butter, garlic scape pesto, a fried egg, and locally smoked salmon. She loves garlic scapes. She puts them on everything — even into her vanilla smoothies!

Follow her two-week-long road trip journey with Dale from Kentucky to Seattle in her new vintage pickup, as well as her life at the U-Pick Garden on her blog at http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/. In addition, Adams sells copies of her book, “How to Grow Vegetables in Sitka, Alaska,” a collection of her 2012 Daily Sitka Sentinel “Gardening in Southeast Alaska” columns, for $20 each.

Come visit Lori and pick some produce from her beautiful garden Monday through Saturday between noon to 6:30 p.m. She will be at the next three Sitka Farmers Markets (Aug. 9, Aug. 23, and Sept. 6) with samples of her produce, but is also at the garden by 3 p.m. on those Saturdays. A few weeks ago, she came to the market with garlic scapes pulverized with olive oil and spread on a cracker. The combination was a HUGE hit. At the last market, she brought her Down-to-Earth peapods and homemade jams. Come visit her at the market this Saturday!



Sarah Lewis, right, watches as Betsy Decker adds water to a pressure cooker before jars of produce are added to start the canning process.

kitch_logo_mainOn July 25-27, the Sitka Kitch project hosted Sarah Lewis of the Juneau District Office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service to host three classes in Sitka on the cottage food industry and home canning. In addition, Sarah had a table at the Sitka Farmers Market on July 26 where she tested pressure canner gauges.

The slideshow below features photos from Saturday’s Canning The Harvest class at First Presbyterian Church. For those who missed the classes and want to learn more about home canning, the UAF Cooperative Extension Service has a series of online tutorials on its website called “Preserving Alaska’s Bounty.” Pressure canner gauges should be tested at least once a year to make sure they are hitting the right pressures for safe food preservation. The Sitka District Office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service also has a variety of resources on home canning, gardening and other topics.

Sitka Kitch is a community wellness project from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit designed to improve food security in Sitka. The different parts of the project include creating a community kitchen Sitka residents can rent to prepare food for their small businesses or to preserve their family harvest of fish, game, or garden veggies; expanding Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity; and providing education about preserving food and building family emergency food pantries.

For more information about the Sitka Kitch project, contact Marjorie Hennessy at marjorie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509.

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