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Students at Sitka Adventist School recently harvested a bumper crop of veggies they grew over the summer in their new school garden. Sitka Adventist School is a small private school for grades 1-8 located at 1613 Halibut Point Road (lower level).

“Our garden is relatively new. We built and planted it in spring of 2014,” Principal/Teacher Kallie McCutcheon said. “The students helped mix dirt, shovel dirt and sand, plant seeds and seedlings, water (on the rare occasion that it wasn’t supplied from the heavens), check plants, weed, and of course, pick our wonderful produce. We picked beets, carrots, potatoes and cabbage. I decided to plant the garden to teach the kids a skill and that they CAN grow plants!”

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BIG HARVESTBaranof Elementary School first-grader Marley Bayne, 6, holds up a large carrot and a beet next to the Russian Bishop’s House garden Wednesday. The entire first-grade class harvested the vegetables they helped plant in the spring when they were kindergartners. This year’s growing season was especially good for the garden crops, which children are using to make soup in class. Sitka National Historical Park rangers organize the gardening activities with the help of school staff and parent volunteers. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo By James Poulson)

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???????????????????????????????For a second year (2014-15), the Sitka Local Foods Network (SLFN) education committee wants to help families in Sitka learn how easy it can be to grow some of their own food. We are looking for up to four families who would like to learn about and try vegetable gardening in their own backyard through our Family Garden Mentor project.

Through a series of six workshops to be held at the families’ homes, Sitka Local Foods Network education committee volunteers will help the families:

  • Choose a location for a vegetable bed (learning about sun, drainage, etc.),
  • Build (or find) a planter/container or raised bed, and acquire soil and soil amendments,
  • Learn about soil and prepare the soil for planting,
  • Plant 2-4 easy-to-grow plants — specifically potatoes, lettuce, kale, and maybe a perennial edible such as rhubarb or fruit bushes,
  • Learn to take care of their plants over the summer — teaching how to care for and pick the vegetables (without killing the plant),
  • Harvest potatoes, and
  • Cook a meal using the vegetables they have grown.

IMG_0005The Sitka Local Foods Network will provide all materials — soil, lumber, seeds, etc. — free to the participating families. Families will be expected to provide the labor, enthusiasm for gardening, and healthy appetites to eat the vegetables they grow.

The requirement to own your property or home has been dropped for 2015. Interested families must meet only three requirements:

  1. They must be first-time vegetable gardeners (this project is meant to help people who are just starting to garden),
  2. They must want to try vegetable gardening and be committed to participating throughout the summer, and
  3. They must agree to let others come and attend classes at their property.

Other criteria, such as availability and interest in a second year of mentoring, will also be used to help select the final four families. Families that are not selected will be placed on a waiting list in the hope of future continuation and expansion of this project.

IMG_0751The Sitka Local Foods Network has expanded the program this year to include more families and to include at least two households living in rental housing that will garden in portable containers or planters appropriately sized for their space (in case moving is necessary). We also will offer a second year of mentoring to previous participants, so families can expand their knowledge and try growing more “difficult” vegetables such as carrots and green onions.

Workshops may start as early as this fall or winter with selecting the site, ramp up in the spring of 2015 and run through September’s late harvest. First-year classes will focus on the easiest-to-grow vegetables (and fruit) in Sitka — potatoes, lettuce, kale, and rhubarb.

Families interested in participating should contact Michelle Putz at 747-2708, and provide a name, address, and contact phone number. Please contact Michelle by Monday, Oct. 6, if you hope to participate in the 2014-15 family garden mentor project.

Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Florence Welsh and her daughter Cory Welsh of Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens at the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. The Welsh family has one of the larger gardens in Sitka, raising a variety of veggies including cabbage, carrots, zuccini, potatoes, greens, and more. Florence received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh carrots, fresh rhubarb, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This concludes the seventh year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. While the Sitka Farmers Market is over for the summer, we will host a produce table at the 20th annual Running of the Boots, with registration at 10 a.m., costume judging at 10:30 a.m. and race at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

Sitka Farmers Market Co-Managers Debe Brincefield, left, and Ellexis Howey, right, present the Table Of The Day Award to Florence Welsh and her daughter Cory Welsh of Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens at the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall in Sitka. The Welsh family has one of the larger gardens in Sitka, raising a variety of veggies including cabbage, carrots, zuccini, potatoes, greens, and more. Florence received a gift bag with fresh greens, fresh carrots, fresh rhubarb, and a copy of the Alaska Farmers Market Cookbook. This concludes the seventh year of Sitka Farmers Markets, hosted by the Sitka Local Foods Network. While the Sitka Farmers Market is over for the summer, we will host a produce table at the 20th annual Running of the Boots, with registration at 10 a.m., costume judging at 10:30 a.m. and race at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. For more information about the Sitka Farmers Markets and Sitka Local Foods Network, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/, or check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaLocalFoodsNetwork. (PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK)

SitkaFarmersMarketSignFlorence Welsh, along with daughter Cory Welsh, of the Welsh Family Forget-Me-Not Gardens won the Table of the Day Award for the sixth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2014 summer, held Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

This easily was the rainiest Sitka Farmers Market in our seven-year history (we had a record 3 1/2 inches of rain in 12 hours that Saturday), but we still had a decent crowd show up for the market.

While the Sitka Farmers Market is done until the 2015 summer, the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a produce table at the 20th annual Running of the Boots on Saturday, Sept. 27 (10 a.m. registration, 10:30ish costume judging, 11 a.m. race), near St. Michael of the Archangel Russian Orthodox Cathedral on Lincoln Street. The Sitka Local Foods Network also has a local produce table on weekends when Chelan Produce is in town. A slideshow with scenes from the sixth Sitka Farmers Market is below.

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The next topic of the Natural History Seminar Series will feature Kate Mohatt presenting “Mushrooms of Alaska’s Southern Coasts.” The presentation is at 7:30 p.m. on Friday Sept. 19, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

Kate Mohatt is an ecologist for the Chugach National Forest who has been studying fungi in Montana and Alaska for several years. She has been a key organizer in the Girdwood Fungus Fair and a frequent speaker at the Tongass Rainforest Festival in Petersburg. Mohatt is the lead author of the 2013 publication, Mushrooms of the National Forests in Alaska (available at the USDA Forest Service, Sitka Ranger District office in Sitka, 204 Siginaka Way).

Mohatt will talk about the importance of fungi in forests, and about some common and interesting fungi found in Alaska. She also will lead a walk focused on forest fungi on Saturday, Sept. 20, in Sitka, with details shared at the Friday night seminar.

The seminar series is supported by a grant from the Sitka Permanent Charitable Trust to the Sitka Sound Science Center, and by the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus with support from the USDA Forest Service. If you have questions, please contact Kitty LaBounty at 747-9432.

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Volunteer gardener Karen Christner, right, in period costume, leads a tour of the Russian Bishop’s House garden in September 2013.

The Sitka National Historical Park will host a garden party starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13, at the Russian Bishop’s House garden.

Volunteer gardener Karen Christner and Ranger Jasa Woods will present a 45-minute program on the history of the Russian Bishop’s House garden and how its tradition is carried on today. During the spring, kindergarten students from Baranof Elementary School plant the garden. In the fall, the students return as first-graders to harvest the produce.

Attendees are invited early for hot tea and Russian tea cakes. Seating and shelter from the rain will be provided. For more information, call the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center at 747-0110.

The 2014-15 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors. Front row, from left, Suzan Hess, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Maybelle Filler. Back row, from left, Beth Kindig, Lauren Fetzer, Michelle Putz, and Charles Bingham. Not pictured are Jack Ozment, Milt Fusselman, and Rick Armstrong.

The 2014-15 Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors. Front row, from left, Suzan Hess, Lisa Sadleir-Hart, and Maybelle Filler. Back row, from left, Beth Kindig, Lauren Fetzer, Michelle Putz, and Charles Bingham. Not pictured are Jack Ozment, Milt Fusselman, and Rick Armstrong.

Are you interested in promoting and encouraging the use of locally grown, harvested and produced foods in Sitka and Southeast Alaska? The Sitka Local Foods Network could use you on its board of directors.

The Sitka Local Foods Network currently has two vacancies on its nine-person board of directors, with the possibility of additional spots opening up in January.

Board members are concerned about increasing access to local food for all Sitka residents. They also are concerned about rising food prices in Sitka, and they want to advocate for more community and family gardens in Sitka.

Board members help direct the Sitka Local Foods Network, a non-profit that promotes the harvest and use of local food in Sitka. In addition to setting the focus of the group, board members also help on a wide variety of projects such as the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, and the Sitka Local Foods Network Education Committee. In addition, over the years our board members have supported community food-related projects such as the Blatchley Community Garden, Let’s Grow Sitka, the Sick-A-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment project, Sitka Fish-To-Schools, the Sitka fruit-tree-planting project, other school education projects and more.

To apply for a spot on the board, please fill out the attached application and submit it to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.org. The Sitka Local Foods Network board is a working board, which means each board member also participates in one of our four focus groups (farmers market, fellowship farm, education committee, and greenhouse). For more information, contact Sitka Local Foods Network board president Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985.

Our current board members and the year their terms end are:

  • 2014 — Milt Fusselman, Charles Bingham, one vacant seat
  • 2015 — Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Michelle Putz, Maybelle Filler
  • 2016 — Beth Kindig, Matthew Jackson, one vacant seat

We also are looking to increase our pool of volunteers who will help out during the various projects hosted by the network each year (no formal application needed, just send us your name/contact info and what types of projects you enjoy).

The next Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 13, in the upstairs meeting room at the See House behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church. The board generally meets from 6:30-8:30 p.m. (with a brief finance committee meeting from 6-6:30 p.m.) on the second Monday of each month, except during the summer (June, July, August) when board members are busy working with the Sitka Farmers Market and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors application

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors job description

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