PHOTO COURTESY OF SITKA LOCAL FOODS NETWORK Sitka Farmers Market representative and Sitka Conservation Society community sustainability organizer Tracy Gagnon, second from left, presents Sitka Spruce Catering owner Jeren Schmidt, third from left (with daughter Novah Lee Schmidt in backpack), with the table of the day award as Jeren's co-workers Tam Conatser, left, and Linda Bergdoll-Schmidt, right, watch. The table of the day award was for the second Sitka Farmers Market of the summer on Saturday, July 30, 2011, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall in Sitka, Alaska. Sitka Spruce Catering uses locally grown veggies, herbs and other local products to create the food it provides through its catering operation. Jeren, Tam and Linda received a tote bag full of bread, veggies and other prizes from the market. The next Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2011, at ANB Hall. To learn more about the Sitka Farmers Market and other Sitka Local Foods Network projects, go to http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.
Aug. 7-13 is National Farmers Market Week this year, as declared by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, so celebrate the week by attending the Sitka Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.).
Farmers markets are a great way to connect with the community, while also purchasing local produce, wild fish, locally baked bread and arts and crafts. Besides providing access to fresh local produce, farmers markets create strong economic engines in communities, promote local health and bring a diverse group of people together. They also help consumers meet and get to know the people who produce their food.
“The Sitka Farmers Market serves as a family friendly place for people to meet and to visit with other members of the community,” said Sitka Local Foods Network Vice-President Linda Wilson, who also serves as the Sitka Farmers Market manager. “Some people spend an hour or two just going around mingling with folks and chatting, catching up on the local news, telling jokes, and sharing ideas and information. There is a lot of good energy around during the market.”
Farmers markets have been growing nationally, from 2,863 in 2000 to 7,175 in 2011, a jump of 150 percent. While Alaska doesn’t have as many farmers markets as other states, it did have the highest percentage of new markets in the country last year, up 35 markets in 2011 or 46 percent. The national rate of new market growth was 17 percent.
This Saturday will be the third of five full Sitka Farmers Markets this summer, with the schedule running on alternate Saturdays (July 16, 30, Aug. 13, 27 and Sept. 10). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally picked berries, jams and jellies, cooking demonstrations, live entertainment, locally brewed and roasted coffee, music, local arts and crafts, and a variety of other items gathered or made in Sitka. We emphasize local products and lots of fun. We are the first farmers market in Southeast Alaska to accept WIC coupons. You also can vote for the Sitka Farmers Market in the America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest by following the links at https://sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/2011/07/06/%E2%80%A2-don%E2%80%99t-forget-to-vote-for-the-sitka-farmers-market-in-this-year%E2%80%99s-america%E2%80%99s-favorite-farmers-markets-contest/.
For more information about the market or hosting a booth, contact Sitka Farmers Market Manager Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings or weekends) or firstname.lastname@example.org. By the way, we always need volunteers to help set up and take down the market before and after the event. Your help is greatly appreciated.