• The new Sitka Local Foods Network e-newsletter (Feb. 28)

Click here to read the current Sitka Local Foods Network e-newsletter courtesy of Linda Wilson. Don’t forget, you can sign up for the e-newsletter by typing your e-mail address in the “Join Our Mailing List” box on bottom of the left side of the page.

• New feature added — Sitka Local Foods Marketplace (for in-season local food in Sitka)

There have been some requests for a Sitka Local Foods Marketplace, where local gardeners and fishermen can post notes when they have in-season local food available in Sitka. So we’ve added a Sitka Local Foods Marketplace page (please click this link), and the marketplace page can be found at the top of our main Sitka Local Foods Network gateway page.

The Sitka Local Foods Marketplace will give local gardeners and fishermen a place to let people know when local food is available, and this will be an all-year marketplace for local food. The way this will work is people with local food for sale will use the comments to post the news about their extra heads of lettuce or fresh king salmon available for sale. Sellers will be responsible for all licensing required before they can sell fish or cooked goods. Please no selling of subsistence or sport-caught fish due to Alaska Department of Fish & Game licensing regulations.

When posting your comment about local food you have available for sale, please use this format:

Your name (first and last names, please)
Your contact information (phone number and/or e-mail address)
What type of food is available (for example, fresh-caught winter king salmon with most fish in the 12-16 pound range)
Your price (both single item and any quantity discounts)
Expected time items will be available (one week, two weeks, all summer, etc.)
Any other comments about your local food

Please be aware that all comments are moderated on this site (thank the spammers), so it may take a day or two to be posted. If you posted a marketplace comment that didn’t show up on the page within a day or two, please send me an e-mail at charles(at)sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org — replace (at) with the @ symbol. Also, if you have your own Web site for your local food products, send me the link and I will add it to the Sitka Commercial Food Producers category (toward the bottom of the long list of links on the right side of the Web page).

• Sitka gardeners to meet Tuesday, March 16, at UAS-Sitka Campus

There will be an informal get together for interested Sitka gardeners from 7-8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 16, in Room 106 at the University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka Campus on Japonski Island.

The get together is for gardeners of all types, interests, and skills to informally exchange ideas, information, seed catalogs and growing tips. Share and learn from other gardeners with no dues or commitments other than good fellowship. The March topic is getting growing.

Sitka gardeners plan to get together the third Tuesday of the month at the UAS-Sitka Campus. This month’s meeting is sponsored by UAS-Sitka Campus and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. For more information, call Cheryl Stromme at 747-9473 or Bob Gorman at 747-9413.

• ‘Let’s Grow Sitka!’ garden show takes place Sunday, March 14

All gardeners and would-be gardeners are encouraged to attend the second annual “Let’s Grow Sitka!” educational and social event for Sitka gardeners. Let’s Grow Sitka! takes place from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 14, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street.

Learn about home greenhouses, how to prepare your soil, and what to do with all those slugs. Buy seeds and plant starts. Swap ideas and tips. Come learn, share, and get ready to grow your garden. Learn about plans for the Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. Let’s Grow Sitka is organized by the Sitka Local Foods Network and is part of the 10-day Arti Gras Sitka Music and Arts Festival, which takes place March 5-14.

Master gardeners are encouraged to sign up to share their personal experience on how to create a successful garden in Sitka. Also, anyone with a garden-related product or service to sell is invited to participate. Some of the expected booths are from the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, Garden Ventures, Solexx Greenhouses, Harry Race, Down To Earth U-Pick Garden, Sitka Global Warming Group (garden-matching program) and many others.

There still are a few FREE tables available for vendors, education and demonstrations. For more information or to reserve table space, contact Linda Wilson in the evenings at 747-3096.

Doug Osborne answers questions at the Sitka Farmers Market table during the 2009 Let's Grow Sitka garden show

Doug Osborne answers questions at the Sitka Farmers Market table during the 2009 Let's Grow Sitka garden show

Sitka residents wander the booths during the 2009 Let's Grow Sitka garden show

Sitka residents wander the booths during the 2009 Let's Grow Sitka garden show

Mike and Robin run the White's Inc./Harry Race table during the 2009 Let's Grow Sitka garden show

Mike and Robin run the White's Inc./Harry Race table during the 2009 Let's Grow Sitka garden show

• Sitka Global Warming Group, Sitka Local Foods Network offer Sitka garden-matching program

Do you have a planting bed that you don’t have the time or energy to cultivate? Do you wish you could grow some vegetables, but have no place to put them?

Sitka Global Warming Group (SGWG), in conjunction with the Sitka Local Foods Network, is offering a garden-matching program to help people who have garden space get matched up with people who want to plant and tend a garden. This is an effort to increase the amount of food grown and eaten locally. SGWG asks Sitka residents who have garden space to share or residents who need a garden space to contact the group at info@sitkaglobalwarming.org. Provide your name, email address, phone number, size of the spot available or wanted, and the location of either the spot that is available or the address of the person who wants the spot.

SGWG will collect this data over the next month and then work to match garden spots with a nearby person who would like to plant and tend a garden. SGWG also will be collecting names and garden locations at the “Let’s Grow Sitka” garden show event taking place from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 14, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street.

Michelle Putz of SGWG said the group is not setting any expectations of either the people who offer garden space or who want a garden space. Sharing of produce will be encouraged, but won’t be an expectation. SGWG also does not know how many participants to expect.

“This is the first year that we will do this,” Michelle said. “We’ve seen plenty of people who want to grow their own food but don’t have space to do it, and we have seen a lot of planting beds and garden spots that go unused during the summer because people are too busy or lack knowledge or experience in growing a garden. This is a great way to match those unused gardens with someone who will make them productive and increase the amount of vegetables being grown in Sitka.”

“Growing food locally has many benefits,” Michelle added. “For our group, the benefit is reducing the miles that food is shipped [thus reducing fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions]. But growing food locally also makes the food cheaper and improves the quality and healthfulness of the vegetables, since they are fresher. Growing food locally also improves our ‘food security,’ making a food shortage less likely in times of high fuel prices or bad weather. And local food tastes really good.”

• Sitka office of UAF Cooperative Extension Service to host Master Gardener class

Master gardener Bob Gorman shows off seed starts in wet paper towels during a March garden workshop

The Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will host a 40-hour Master Gardener class from 6-9 p.m. every Wednesday night from March 3 through May 12 in Sitka.

The class also will involve two 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday sessions, on March 20 and May. All classes take place at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. Local field trips and growing projects are part of the class.

The non-credit course costs $50 for materials and a student agreement to provide 40 hours of gardening-related service to the community within 12 months of completing the course. UAF Cooperative Extension Service Resource Development Agent Bob Gorman will be the course’s instructor. Guest presenters will assist during the classes.

The class includes topics such as plant propagation, soil management, pest identification and control, extending the growing season, vegetable and fruit gardening, greenhouse and indoor gardening, and ornamental gardening.

The purpose of the program is to train volunteers to assist the UAF Cooperative Extension Service by providing the public with gardening-related information. Volunteer service includes help with the Sitka native plants and demonstration garden, youth and in-school gardening, community gardening events, helping with plant pest identification, and assisting with the Sitka Local Foods Network.

Class size is limited and students are encouraged to register early. Those people interested in the class are encouraged to leave their names, contact information and a phone message on the Sitka office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9440. Registration packets are available at the UAS Sitka Campus front desk. The course is offered by the UAF Cooperative Extension Service and the UAS Sitka Campus.

For more information about master gardeners, here are links to the Alaska Master Gardeners and the Southeast Alaska Master Gardeners pages.

• Juneau hosts Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference on Feb. 25-26

Save the dates: The Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference takes place on Feb. 25-26 in Juneau, with the Southeast Gardening Workshop on Feb. 27. These events should be worth a trip from Sitka to Juneau.

Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference topics will include slugs and snails, low maintenance landscape design, propagating native plants, new varieties for 2010 and more.

As usual, the Polar Grower Trade Show will be available during the conference. All sessions will be at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Juneau (on Willoughby Ave.). Click here for a registration brochure with more details (link opens PDF file).

The Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference is hosted by the Juneau office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, and conference details are available at 796-6221.

In addition to the two-day conference and trade show, there also is the Southeast Gardening Workshop on Feb. 27. For information on the Southeast Gardening Workshop, contact Darren Snyder of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service office in Juneau at 796-6281.

2010 Alaska Greenhouse and Nursery Conference brochure (opens as PDF file)

• Sitka gardeners extend growing seasons with government pilot study on high tunnels

Several Sitka gardeners will be extending their growing seasons this year thanks to a government soil conservation program designed to study the effectiveness of “high tunnels” or “hoop houses” when it comes to growing more local food in a conservation-minded way. To qualify you need to have grown $1,000 worth of produce for two of the past five years, even if just for your family and friends.

The Sitka participants will be constructing the greenhouse-like structures this year, which will enable them to grow more local food. For participating in the study, the government will reimburse them for the cost of the materials. This project is part of a nationwide effort to improve our community food security called “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food.” As part of the project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a three-year, 38-state study on high tunnels to see if they help reduce pesticide use, extend the growing season, keep vital nutrients in the soil, etc. This YouTube video has more information about the pilot study and shows several smaller family garden-sized high tunnels being placed in the White House garden.

“There is great potential for high tunnels to expand the availability of healthy, locally-grown crops — a win for producers and consumers,” U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan said. “This pilot project is going to give us real-world information that farmers all over the country can use to decide if they want to add high tunnels to their operations. We know that these fixtures can help producers extend their growing season and hopefully add to their bottom line.”

If you meet the requirement, feel free to participate by contacting our local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agent for Southeast Alaska, Samia Savell in Juneau at 586-7220, or go to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/. NRCS will fund one high tunnel per qualifying farm, and a high tunnel can cover as much as 5 percent of one acre.

High tunnels have been used successfully in Alaska, including up in Fairbanks where temperatures drop to minus-50. Last September, the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences reported on a two-year project where 39 varieties of apples had been grown in high tunnels at the Fairbanks Experiment Farm. The UAF Cooperative Extension Service also reported on the project (with short videos), and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner also reported on the story.

• Sitka Local Foods Network contracting for 2010 St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

The Sitka Local Foods Network is contracting for a lead gardener to help manage our activities at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm community garden this summer. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (SPFF) is growing, and we’re adding new garden beds so we can grow more crops. The vegetables grown at SPFF are sold at the Sitka Farmers Market to help support the efforts of the Sitka Local Foods Network, with some crops also going to local church and charity groups. Here is the lead gardener contract description.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm 2010 Lead Gardener Contract Description

Work Experience: 2-3 years of varied vegetable gardening experience, preferably with at least one year in Southeast Alaska. This includes planning, cultivating, harvesting, composting and preparing vegetables for sale or preservation, as well as putting the garden to rest for the season.

Contract Requirements:

  • Develop a garden plan that includes succession planting in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators (board members Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne and Maybelle Filler)
  • Conduct soil testing and amend the soil to improve soil quality using available resources (i.e., seaweed, bone meal, etc) in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators and volunteer work parties
  • Cultivate plant starts using seeds provided by the SLFN and make recommendations for SPFF seed start kits to be distributed at the Let’s Grow Sitka event on March 14, 2010
  • Use organic gardening practices
  • Host 3 initial planting parties (from 2-4:30 p.m. on three Saturdays, May 15, May 22 and May 29) i.e., coordinate with the SPFF tri-coordinators to plan and direct work
  • Direct 75 percent of the garden work parties, i.e., these are tentatively scheduled for Wednesdays 4:30-6 p.m. and Saturdays 2-3:30 p.m. (on non-Sitka Farmers Market Saturdays) during the months of June, July and August, plus the first half of September, but can be negotiated.
  • Plan and oversee the harvest of the garden for the first five 2010 Sitka Farmers Markets (harvest usually takes place early on market-day mornings, July 17, July 31, August 14, August 28 and September 4)
  • Develop a method for quantifying the amount of vegetables harvested from SPFF and implement it
  • Maintain the composting and watering systems
  • Direct any questions or concerns to the SPFF tri-coordinators

Compensation: A total of $1,500 paid in three installments (May 15, July 15 and September 15) plus 5 percent of the SPFF harvest – this compensation schedule is open for negotiation.

If interested in the SPFF lead gardener contract, e-mail a resume that includes two local references that can speak to your gardening ability and a letter of interest by February 20th to 3akharts@acsalaska.net. Direct questions to Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or Doug Osborne at 747-3752.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board meetings

Just a reminder that the Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors meets for lunch, from noon to 1 p.m., on the first Monday of each month (except the summer months of June, July and August). The meetings now take place at the See House, located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street. This also is where the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm community garden is located. The Sitka Local Foods Network board meetings are open to the public and we welcome new volunteers who want to help with our projects.