• Sitka Local Foods Network says thanks to those who helped with September’s Running of the Boots

(NOTE: A version of this letter to the editor appeared in the Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

The Sitka Local Foods Network would like to take this end-of-the-year opportunity to thank some of the folks who helped Sitka get more local food into the lives of our residents.

Helping us celebrate the end of the season at the Running of the Boots on Sept. 24 were a couple of hundred hardy Sitkans, as well as Jesuit Volunteers and AmeriCorps members who joined 2012 Health Summit awardee Laura Schmidt and Lynnda Strong in the early morning light to harvest produce for the Sitka Farmers Market table.

Sitka Conservation Society interns, Sitka Global Warming Group/Sustainable Sitka folks and Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop staff provided bike tune-ups and education to folks that took up the challenge to Bike to the Boots and participate in the international 350.org Moving Planet energy conservation day on Sept. 24, 2011.

The Sitka Blues Band was rockin’ the scene by the time the faithful sponsor’s (Honeywell International) XtraTuf boot was thrown in the air. Everyone got 10-percent off at Harry Race’s soda fountain and the first to reach the store got wooden tokens for free soda treats.  The fastest runner was Ben Sargeant, the host of the national cooking show Hook, Line and Dinner on the Cooking Channel that was filming the event for a February 2012 episode about Sitka. He won a new pair of XtraTufs from Russell’s.

Other wonderful sponsors included Harris Air, AC Lakeside, SeaMart, the Westmark, the Dock Shack, F/V Coral Lee, Gimbal Botanicals, Orion Sporting Goods, the Fur Gallery, Old Harbor Books, Salon 264, Rain Country, Sitka Sound Seafood and the Nugget Cafe.

Costume judges Kiki Norman, Jude Reis, and Sheila Finkenbinder excelled in hooking up the great runners and Lip Sync singers with the terrific prizes that were so bigheartedly donated.

Special thanks to the Daily Sitka Sentinel, KCAW, K11VG TV and KIFW for promoting our events all year long.  There are more people and businesses to thank, and I apologize if I have overlooked somebody. Thank you for a great year and here is to a bountiful 2012, including the March 11 “Let’s Grow Sitka!” spring fair.

Thank you,
Kerry MacLane, President
Sitka Local Foods Network, Inc.

• Sitka Composting Project to meet on Monday, Dec. 12

Compost bins at Blatchley Community Garden

Compost bins at Blatchley Community GardenBlatchley Community Garden

The next meeting of the Sitka Composting Project (aka Sick-a Waste) will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 12, at Harrigan Centennial Hall in the Pestchouroff Room.

The group decided during its Dec 6 meeting that since we are so close to the holidays and the proximity to a couple of grant deadlines by the end of the month that we will meet next week before a January meeting.

During the Dec. 6 meeting we discussed project costs, inputs and management of the proposed composting site. Due to complications with windrow composting at the Blatchley Middle School Community Gardens site, we have decided as a group to install two EarthTubs (and for the time being leave off a second site at the Sitka Recycling Center). Windrows or a larger in-vessel composter will be the target of the next stage of the project. Before the next meeting we will determine Sitka Community Schools participation in the project, make revisions to the proposal, and research technical issues with the composter (electricity, maintenance, etc.).

For more information, contact Justin Overdevest at 747-7509. The Sitka Composting Project is one of three community health priority projects selected during the 2011 Sitka Health Summit.

• Rising grocery prices raise food insecurity concerns in Sitka

(NOTE: The following letter to the editor appeared in the Friday, Dec. 9, 2011, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

Dear Editor,

Many in Sitka are feeling squeezed not only by rising fuel costs, but also by escalating food costs. The September 2011 Alaska Food Cost Survey, conducted by University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, calculated Sitka’s weekly food cost for a family of four as $198.41. This is a 44-percent increase since 2006, when the same market basket cost was $138.14. Sitka’s food costs are 57 percent higher than in Portland, Ore., 37 percent more than in Anchorage and 30 percent more than in Juneau.

Feeding America 2011 statistics report that 11.7 percent of Sitka’s borough is “food insecure.”  This translates to 1,030 Sitkans and other Baranof Islanders who sometimes are completely without a source of food on a regular basis.

Kids Count Alaska 2009-2010 reports that 46 percent of Sitka’s school age children and youth live in families receiving some form of public assistance i.e., Denali KidCare, food stamps, or Alaska Temporary Assistance. This is a 10-percent increase since 2007.

Alaska behavioral risk factor data from 2009 show that only 23 percent of Alaskans consume the recommended five fruits and vegetables each day and only 17 percent of adolescents eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables. One of the primary reasons for this low intake is inadequate access to affordable, quality produce.

These combined statistics paint a picture of increasing vulnerability when it comes to securing nutritious food on a regular basis. In the nutrition and public health world, this tenuous access to healthy food is known as food insecurity. So, how can Sitka, collectively and creatively, respond to food insecurity? Sitka can respond by INCREASING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE LOCAL FOOD.

The Sitka Local Foods Network is working towards improving access to nutritious, local foods through five interconnected strategies. Together, these five strategies can move Sitka toward a more food-secure future. They are:

  1. Promoting traditional and customary food gathering and preservation.
  2. Developing the Let’s Grow Sitka gardening campaign to assist Sitkans in learning to grow some of their own food.
  3. Growing the number of community gardens to augment the garden behind Blatchley Middle School. The 4-year-old St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is a recent example.
  4. Coordinating regular Sitka Farmers Markets during the summer growing and gathering seasons.
  5. Creating a community greenhouse and promoting commercial greenhouses to increase year-round access to local fruits and vegetables.

If you are interested in supporting this effort, please commit to one of the following actions:

  • Attend the Let’s Grow Sitka extravaganza as part of Artigras from noon-3pm on March 11, 2012, at the ANB Hall to learn how to grow your own food
  • Volunteer to work at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm this spring or the Sitka Farmers Market this summer
  • Support the Sitka Farmers Market which begins July 7, 2012, and runs every other Saturday morning through Sept. 15, 2012.
  • Mail a tax-deductible, year-end contribution to the Sitka Local Food Network at 408-D Marine Street, Sitka, AK 99835.

Together, we can make food security a reality in Sitka.


Sitka Local Foods Network Board and Friends
(Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Charles Bingham, Kerry MacLane, Doug Osborne, Ellen Frankenstein, Maybelle Filler, Robin Grewe)

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors to meet on Wednesday, Dec. 7

The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at its winter board retreat on Dec. 3, 2011. From left are Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne, Maybelle Filler, Cathy Lieser, Robin Grewe, Linda Wilson and Kerry MacLane. Not pictured is Tom Crane.

The Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors will hold its monthly meeting from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the upstairs offices at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Building, 408 Marine St.

Key topics for the meeting include a recap of the recent SLFN board retreat, an update on the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center, an update on the Sitka Food Co-op, an update on recent work by the Alaska Food Policy Council, an update on the Sitka Composting Project, our new logo and t-shirts, planning for upcoming educational events such as Let’s Grow Sitka in March, and more.

Board meetings are free and open to the general public, usually once a month (except summer). We always welcome new volunteers interested in helping out with our various projects. For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or 747-3475.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting agenda for Dec. 7, 2011