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4H Fair flyer

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe Sitka Spruce Tips 4H club will host its inaugural 4H Fair at the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (235 Katlian Street).

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4H club is co-sponsored by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and the Sitka Conservation Society. It provides a variety of programming promoting the Alaska Way of Life for youth and their families.

According to event organizer Jasmine Shaw of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office, the 4H members are going to be submitting projects in six different divisions:

  • Division 1 — Food Preservation (jams, jellies, preserves, canned goods, smoked fish, jerky)
  • Division 2 — Baked Goods (pies, cakes, cookies, donuts/frybread, breads)
  • Division 3 — Produce (fruits and vegetables) and Flowers
  • Division 4 — Arts and Crafts (knitting, basketry, natural products, recycled crafts, woodworking, sewing)
  • Division 5 — Art (photography, drawings, paintings)
  • Division 6 — Presentations (posters, reports, displays)
Only one entry per individual per category is allowed, so we are asking members to choose your best item. Other items can be displayed but not entered for judging.
“This is a chance for community members to see what 4H has been up to all year and become involved if they want,” Shaw said. “(We will have registration forms).
“Some members will have items for sale alongside the fair display,” Shaw added. “I’m not sure all of what will be for sale yet, but I do some of our members in our natural product series will be making lotion and lip balm.”

LisaSadleirHartDiscussesProperHeadSpace

kitch_logo_mainStudents learned how to make pickles from squash and small-batch sauerkraut at the first Preserving the Harvest series class of the summer on Monday, July 18, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen.

The Simple Pickles and Sauerkraut class was taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart, with assistance from Jasmine Shaw. It is one of six classes in the Preserving the Harvest class series, which will teach people how to safely preserve the summer’s bounty so it can be eaten in the summer.

Other classes in the series will include low-sugar jams and jellies, canning salmon, chutneys and salsas, apple and fruit butters, and a community kale celebration. More details can be found at this link.

JarsPackedWithSquashThe Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch.

To register for classes, go to our online registration page at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ and click on the class name. We now have a PayPal option so people can pay the registration fees before the class. There are food/supply fees for most of the classes, which are split between the students, and those are paid by cash or check (made out to the Sitka Conservation Society) at the class. Other than for the Kale Celebration event, each class has a limited number of spots available, so register early. Registration for each class closes at 11:55 p.m. on the Friday before the class.

If you have any questions about the class series, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org. A slideshow of images from the simple pickles and sauerkraut class is posted below.

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The first graduating class of the ANS Culinary Academy. Back row: Paulette Moreno, Jenna Martin, Dorothy Gordon, Jessie Natkong, Joy Wood, Marie Lawson, Amy Sutton, Teresa Moses. Front row: Jaiden Martin, Duane Lindoff, Mykle Potter, Zackery Loewen, Chad Titell, Andrew Roberts, Russell James (with Camden). Floor level: Lydia May, Gary May. Not pictured: Adam Geiger.

Sixteen students of the new Alaska Native Sisterhood Culinary Academy graduated from the program on Saturday, July 16, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

The graduates learned basic culinary skills, and also earned SafeServ and Certified Food Protection Manager (CFPM) certifications. The instructor was Gary May, the owner of New Creations Mobile Bistro and one of a handful of chefs in Alaska qualified to teach CFPM classes. The Alaska Native Sisterhood (ANS) Camp 4 in Sitka, the Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) Camp 1 in Sitka, and Faith Mountain Ministries sponsored the classes.

“The vision of the ANS is to have a commercial kitchen at ANB Founders Hall to be here for our people, for koo.éex’ or holiday dinners,” ANS Camp 4 President Paulette Moreno said. “We also want it to be a place of training. The vision of our elders is to get our people in jobs where they can earn an income all year. We also have traditional foods we need people to know how to safely handle.”

Paulette said the ANS already has a waiting list for the next series of classes, which will probably take place this fall. Gary said the training was about 20 hours, and the students had to pass a couple of tests to earn their certifications, which will allow them to get jobs in just about any kitchen in the state..

The graduates were Paulette Moreno, Jenna Martin, Dorothy Gordon, Jessie Natkong, Joy Wood, Marie Lawson, Amy Sutton, Teresa Moses, Duane Lindoff, Mykle Potter, Zackery Loewen, Chad Titell, Andrew Roberts, Adam Geiger (who couldn’t make the ceremony), and Russell James (Teresa’s and Russell’s month-old baby, Camden, received a special certificate for attending all of the classes with his parents).

A slideshow of scenes from the graduation ceremony is posted below.

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Anna Wane, Tamie Song-Parker and Heather Hanson pose with some of the produce from Heather’s and Alli’s Garden. This was one of the new booths at the market this week.

The wind was blustery, but it didn’t rain when we held the second of the seven Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer on Saturday, July 16, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

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Andrea Fraga and Kaleb Aldred of Middle Island Organic Produce, another of the new booths at the market this week.

We had several new vendors at this market, but not as many customers as usual. We had four booths selling produce, two selling beach greens, another selling homemade bread, another with homemade tamales, and even some frybread.

We always welcome new vendors who want to sell produce they’ve grown, fish they’ve caught, and local cottage food products they’ve made. To learn more about how to be a vendor, contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com or Brandie Cheatham at (907) 687-9927 or vista_brandie@yahoo.com.

SitkaSpruceCateringJerenSchmidtDishesUpHomemadeTamaleWithCrystal

Jeren Schmidt of Sitka Spruce Catering dishes up a homemade tamale for a customer.

The next Sitka Farmers Market will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 30, at the ANB Founders Hall. The other markets this summer are on Saturdays, Aug. 13, Aug. 20, Sept. 3, and Sept. 10. The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

A slideshow of scenes from the second Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

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PreservingTheHarvestFlier

kitch_logo_mainYou grew it, harvested it and/or caught it, so now what do you do? The Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen will be offering the Preserving the Harvest class series to teach Sitkans how to store the summer’s bounty so they can use it during the winter.

This class series features six classes covering a variety of food preservation methods. Students will learn how to safely preserve their food, so it won’t spoil or cause illness. The classes on schedule are:

  • Simple Pickles and Sauerkraut 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, July 18, taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and assisted by Jasmine Shaw, $20, plus food/supply fee
  • Low-Sugar Jams and Jellies 6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 1, taught by Jasmine Shaw and assisted by Callie Simmons, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Canning Salmon6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 22, taught by Ellen Ruhle and assisted by Jasmine Shaw, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Chutneys and Salsas6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 29, taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and assisted by Betsy Decker, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Apple and Fruit Butters6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 12, taught by Lisa Sadleir-Hart and assisted by Betsy Decker, $27.50, plus food/supply fee
  • Community Kale Celebration6-8:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 26, Cooking demonstrations featuring kale recipes by chefs Kathy Jones and Barbara Palacios (not a class), entrance fee $10.

The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner. To learn more about how to rent the Sitka Kitch, please go to the website at http://www.sitkawild.org/sitka_kitch.

To register for classes, go to our online registration page at http://sitkakitch.eventsmart.com/ and click on the class name. We now have a PayPal option so people can pay the registration fees before the class. There are food/supply fees for most of the classes, which are split between the students, and those are paid by cash or check (made out to the Sitka Conservation Society) at the class. Other than for the Kale Celebration event, each class has a limited number of spots available, so register early. Registration for each class closes at 11:55 p.m. on the Friday before the class.

If you have any questions about the class series, please email sitkakitch@sitkawild.org.

KeithNyitrayWithCabbage

(Editor’s Note: The Sitka Local Foods Network’s Bulldog on Baranof intern this summer, Claire Chang, is writing the Building a Local Food System series of articles about Sitkans working to improve food security. This is the first article of the series.)

As owner of Finn Island Farm and general manager of the Sitka Food Co-Op, Keith Nyitray is committed to improving access to quality, affordable food on a local level.

DSCN0863Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, Nyitray arrived in Alaska after college in 1979 to pursue mountaineering. He has had his fair share of rugged adventures, including a 10-month, 1,500 mile solo expedition across the Arctic Brooks Range that he wrote about for National Geographic in 1993. When he arrived in Sitka for the first time 17 years ago, the town’s “wonderful community” inspired him to stay.

Nyitray says he learned to garden “at his grandfather’s knees.” He operates his farm and lives on Finn Island, located three miles from Sitka in the Kasiana Islands. On about 2,000 square feet of garden space, he produces plant starts and vegetables, and he also maintains a greenhouse and raises chickens.

Compared to other gardens in Sitka, one of the biggest advantages of the farm’s location on an island is what Nyitray calls the “270 degrees of sun” his garden receives. Annually, he sells 5,000 to 6,000 plant starts to True Value, to private individuals, and through the Sitka Food Co-Op. He sells most of his mature vegetables — such as green beans, zucchini, lettuce, beets, broccoli, English cucumbers, and peppers — through private trades and through the co-op.

KeithNyitrayRobertBainesExplainSitkaFoodCoOpNyitray helped establish the Sitka Food Co-Op in 2011 to help meet the needs of the community. “A lot of people were struggling financially at the time,” Nyitray said, “and food prices were going up and down.”

According to Nyitray, the co-op provides Sitkans access to organic, healthy food at lower prices than local markets. Co-op members make purchases through food distributors online, and the bulk orders are shipped to Sitka as freight on barges. Organic apples purchased through the co-op, for example, cost half as much as organic apples at the grocery stores in Sitka. In addition, the co-op provides individuals with unique dietary needs, especially families with children who have allergies, with access to a wider variety of foods than local markets.

What started as a cooperative of 13 families now has more than 220 members, and sales are projected to exceed $260,000 this year. Nyitray explained that the “slow growth approach” has allowed the organization to keep membership fees at affordable levels while including as many community members as possible.

SitkaFoodCoOpKeithNyitrayMany co-ops, often in big cities or areas with large universities nearby, raise significant capital to open a retail storefront before going into operation. In contrast, the Sitka Food Co-Op does not yet have a retail store, and Nyitray describes the Sitka co-op as a “hybrid between a non-profit buyers club and a for-profit co-op.” This model, which prioritizes the co-op’s connection with the community, is consistent with Nyitray’s belief in “food for people, not for profit.”

The success of the Sitka Food Co-Op has even inspired other rural Alaskan communities, such as Petersburg and Kodiak, to ask Nyitray about starting their own co-ops. Nyitray is excited about supporting these new co-ops, as one of the “seven cooperative principles,” a set of ideals for the operation of cooperatives, is “cooperation between cooperatives.”

Nyitray describes his roles on Finn Island Farm and with the Sitka Food Co-Op as “the most rewarding jobs or positions he has ever had.” He views his work as an embodiment of the saying, “think globally, act locally.” In working toward food security in Sitka, Nyitray has been able to see “definite, positive, immediate results.”

IMG_9866For instance, Nyitray says the competition from the co-op has already led some local grocery stores to reduce some of their prices. Having previously been involved in politics, he finds these results especially gratifying. “In politics, the work was very challenging, but not always very rewarding. You could work really hard, but rarely see results.”

He also enjoys the relationships with community members that he forms through his work. “When people purchase stuff from you they are actually saying thank you,” he explains. “They appreciate the service and the quality of food and the savings. It’s very social. I know everyone by name.”

In the future, Nyitray hopes the Sitka Food Co-Op will be able to include even more members and eventually open a retail store. A retail store helps reach more people in the community who are not members of the co-op and allows shoppers to use food stamps and other forms of food assistance as payment. As he works to serve community, Nyitray will continue to enjoy some of the smaller perks of his job. “I like the organic oranges that I get,” he says, “because I like the juice.”

To learn more about Finn Island Farm, contact Keith Nyitray at knyitray@yahoo.com. To learn more about the Sitka Food Co-Op, contact Nyitray at sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com, or visit the co-op website at http://sitkafoodcoop.org.

SLFNBoothCrowdInFrontOfBooth

SitkaFarmersMarketSignAfter raining the night before, we ended up with some sun when we held the first of the seven Sitka Farmers Markets of the 2016 summer on Saturday, July 2, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall.

The market was a bit smaller than usual, partially because of competition with the Fourth of July booths at Baranof Elementary School and because of our attempts to refocus the market to put more of an emphasis on local food. We did have some new vendors at the market, and there were a couple of discussions from potential vendors asking about space at the next market.

JessicaGillMarcosMunchiesDogTreats

Jessica Gill was one of our new vendors this market with Marco’s Munchies dog treats.

We always welcome new vendors who want to sell produce they’ve grown, fish they’ve caught, and local cottage food products they’ve made. To learn more about how to be a vendor, contact Matthew Jackson at (907) 821-1412 or jackson.mw08@gmail.com or Brandie Cheatham at (907) 687-9927 or vista_brandie@yahoo.com.

The next Sitka Farmers Market will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, at the ANB Founders Hall. The other markets this summer are on Saturdays, July 30, Aug. 13, Aug. 20, Sept. 3, and Sept. 10. The Sitka Farmers Markets receive sponsorship funding from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC). Don’t forget to vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the American Farmland Trust’s eighth annual Farmers Market Celebration.

A slideshow of scenes from the first Sitka Farmers Market of the 2016 summer is below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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