• Alaska Grown, Alaska Center For The Environment team up to host the Eat Local Challenge 2010 on Aug. 22-28

The state’s Alaska Grown program will host its “Eat Local Challenge 2010” on Sunday through Saturday, Aug. 22-28 (click here to read more). This year, the Alaska Center for the Environment, has joined Alaska Grown as a sponsor as part of the center’s local foods and sustainable communities program.

Alaskans have many ways to eat local, from veggies they grow in their own gardens or buy from Alaska farmers, berries they pick, fish they catch, game meat they hunt, seaweed and other beach greens they gather, etc. The benefit of eating local food is it’s fresher so it tastes better and has more nutrients, and you cut out the thousands of miles of transportation costs needed to ship food from the Lower 48 and other countries to Alaska. Growing local food makes a community more sustainable.

During the week of Aug. 22-28, Alaska residents are encouraged to:

  • Try eating at least one home-cooked meal this week, made of mostly local ingredients.
  • Try to incorporate at least one never-before-used local ingredient into a meal.
  • Try “brown-bagging” at least one meal this week made primarily of local ingredients.
  • Try talking to at least one local food retailer and one food producer about local food options.
  • Try to choose local food products whenever possible.

By the way, a good time to buy local food for the Eat Local Challenge is during the third Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, Aug. 14, and during the fourth market on Saturday, Aug. 28. The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on alternate Saturdays (through Sept. 11) at historic Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, 235 Katlian St. We’ll see you there.

• Sitka Spud Walk to take place on Thursday (Aug. 12)

Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service Image Gallery / Photo by Scott Bauer -- The average American eats 142 pounds of potatoes a year, making the tubers the vegetable of choice in this country

Photo courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service Image Gallery / Photo by Scott Bauer -- The average American eats 142 pounds of potatoes a year, making the tubers the vegetable of choice in this country

Jodie Anderson with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station will host a walking tour of local potato patches on Thursday (Aug. 12).

The one-and-a-half-hour walk starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Crescent Harbor Shelter, near the corner of Lincoln Street and Harbor Drive. The tour will visit several of Sitka’s potato gardens and participants should be prepared to walk about 1 1/2 miles in whatever weather conditions exist at the time.

The UAF Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station conducts potato-growing trials statewide to evaluate various potato varieties and to assess potato plant diseases in Alaska communities. There is no charge for the tour, which is open to the public.

For more information, contact the Sitka office of the UAF Cooperative Extension Service at 747-9413.

• Malinda and Karen’s Bakery wins Table of the Day award from second Sitka Farmers Market

Sitka Local Foods Network boardmember Johanna Willingham, left, presents Karen Christner, center, and Malinda Bonsen, right, of Malinda and Karen's Bakery with the Table of the Day award at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on July 31 at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Sitka.

Sitka Local Foods Network boardmember Johanna Willingham, left, presents Karen Christner, center, and Malinda Bonsen, right, of Malinda and Karen's Bakery with the Table of the Day award at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on July 31 at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Sitka.

Karen Christner and Malinda Bonsen of Malinda and Karen’s Bakery won the Table of the Day award at the second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on July 31 at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall.

The two local home bakers were presented with a certificate, $25 cash and a farmers market cookbook by Sitka Local Foods Network boardmember Johanna Willingham. Karen and Malinda baked bread, cinnamon rolls and other desserts to sell at the July 31 market. They also sold some flowers and vegetables from their home gardens.

One vendor at each of the five scheduled Sitka Farmers Markets this season will receive a similar prize. The next markets are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on alternate Saturdays, Aug. 14, Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, at historic ANB Hall. We look forward to seeing you at our next market.

A slideshow of photos from the second Sitka Farmers Market is posted below, and a similar slideshow can be found on our Shutterfly site.

By the way, if you haven’t already done so, please go to the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest site run by the American Farmland Trust and vote for the Sitka Farmers Market.

Voting is broken down into four categories based on the number of vendors at each farmers market. The four categories are Boutique (15 or fewer vendors), Small (16-30 vendors), Medium (31-55 vendors) and Large (more than 56 vendors). The Sitka Farmers Market competes in the Boutique category, and we need about two dozen votes to climb into the national top-20 ranking for our category.

Even though the Sitka Farmers Market is in the smallest size category, it was the leading vote-getter for Alaska as of Thursday, July 29. But a flurry of voting that night vaulted HomeGrown Market of Fairbanks (a Medium market) well ahead of us in the battle for the top market in the state. Voting continues through the end of August so we need your votes to close the gap.

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• The Sitka Farmers Market needs your vote in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest

Do you enjoy the Sitka Farmers Market? Do you feel like it helps contribute to the community of Sitka? Then we need your vote in the 2010 America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest, which is a national contest sponsored by the American Farmland Trust.

The contest is designed to raise national awareness about the importance of supporting fresh food from local farms and farmers. Market shoppers will vote to support their favorite farmers market starting June 1 until midnight (Eastern time) on Aug. 31, 2010. People can vote for as many participating farmers markets as they choose, but can only vote for each market once.

At the end of the contest, one small, medium, large, and a new category, boutique, farmers market will win the title of “America’s Favorite Farmers Market” for 2010. The reward for the winning market in each category will be a shipment of No Farms No Food® tote bags, along with other prizes including free printing services from igreenprint and free graphic design services from Virginia based design firm, SQN Communications. The categories are based on the number of vendors the farmers market has. The four categories are Boutique (15 or fewer vendors), Small (16-30 vendors), Medium (31-55 vendors) and Large (more than 56 vendors). The Sitka Farmers Market competes in the Boutique category.

In addition to the national competition in each of the four size categories, there also is a ranking for the top vote-getters in each state. The Sitka Farmers Market was leading for Alaska on July 29, but a flurry of votes moved HomeGrown Market of Fairbanks (which competes in the Medium category) into a commanding lead. We need your help to close the gap.

Voting is simple, just click on the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest logo in the right-hand column of this webpage, or click this link and follow the prompts. Then, after you vote, please spread the word to your friends or post a note on Facebook to let other people know to vote. Your vote shows your support for fresh, locally grown produce.

The Sitka Farmers Market features locally grown produce, locally caught wild seafood, home-baked goods, jams and jellies, arts and crafts, music and fun for the whole family. Our emphasis is on local foods and fun.

By the way, the remaining Sitka Farmers Markets this year are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 14, Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. We’ll see you there.