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Archive for June, 2012

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host its fifth summer of Sitka Farmers Markets with six markets that start on July 7 and take place on alternate Saturdays through Sept. 15. The Sitka Farmers Markets give Sitka residents a chance to buy and sell locally produced food and crafts.

The Sitka Farmers Markets take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, 21, Aug. 4, 18, Sept. 1 and Sept. 15 at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). The markets feature local seafood (fresh, frozen, and cooked, ready to eat), locally grown and harvested fruits and vegetables, baked bread, locally made 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 http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

“The Sitka Farmers Market is like a carnival every other Saturday,” Sitka Local Foods Network Board President Kerry MacLane said. “It’s a fun community space to enjoy with your family or to meet your friends for fresh coffee and baked goods. There is live music, cooking demonstrations, art, and, of course, fresh veggies, fruit and seafood.”

The Sitka Farmers Market started as a community project that came out of a health priority planning meeting at the 2008 Sitka Health Summit. This event is sponsored by the Sitka Local Foods Network, Alaska Native Brotherhood Camp No. 1, Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4, Baranof Island Housing Authority, Sitka Conservation Society, the Alaska Farmers Market Association and the SEARHC Health Promotion and Diabetes Prevention programs.

“Thanks to our creative and enthusiastic vendors, the Sitka Farmers Market will be celebrating its fifth successful year.” said Johanna Willingham, Sitka Local Foods Network Board Member and Sitka Farmers Market Coordinator. “We have delighted in watching our market grow over the years and due to popular demand we are beginning our market two weeks earlier this year. Outdoor vendors and musicians will still be able to enjoy the newly paved parking lot with landscaping, thanks to BIHA. A tent will be set up for outdoor dining where you can listen to live music and enjoy some great food. Some new items will be added to some familiar vendors’ tables — dried sea veggies, sea asparagus and sea salt. Look forward to fresh snap and snow peas for snacking, ready-to-eat salads, handmade tamales and, as always, fresh black cod tips.”

Vendor fees are $20 for a 6-foot table, $30 for an 8-foot table and $15 for a 4-foot table. Vendors with their own tents pay $2 per foot. As always, we offer cost incentives for vendors growing locally produced food. The fees will help us cover the costs of renting ANB Hall and its kitchen, hiring musicians and other expenses. To learn more about being a vendor or to sign up for a table, contact Sitka Farmers Market Coordinator Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 or by e-mail johanna.willingham@gmail.com. Vendor rules, registration forms and other information for potential vendors can be found at http://www.sitkalocalfoodsnetwork.org/.

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The fifth season for the Sitka Farmers Market doesn’t open until July 7, but you can vote for us now in the fourth annual America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. The contest is sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving America’s agricultural resources.

To vote, click here and then search for the Sitka Farmers Market by typing in the Sitka Farmers Market name or by using the zip code or state directories. You also can vote by clicking the contest logo at the top of this site’s right column or the contest logo at the bottom of this post. Voting opened on June 22, and the deadline to vote is midnight EST on Monday, Sept. 3 (8 p.m. Alaska time on Sunday, Sept. 2). The online voting form asks what you like best about the market, so be prepared to type something in the box. The top boutique, small, medium and large markets win a large quantity of “No Farms, No Food” totebags to distribute at a market in September, in addition to other prizes to help organizers run a better market. Click here for more information about the contest, and click here for a FAQ page with more details.

By the way, the summer’s first Sitka Farmers Market is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall (235 Katlian St.). Other markets are scheduled for alternate Saturdays — July 21 Aug. 4, Aug. 18, Sept. 1 and Sept. 15. There also will be a small Sitka Farmers Market produce booth at the Running of the Boots fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network on Sept. 29 at the Crescent Harbor covered shelter. We’re looking forward to seeing you at the markets.

Our markets feature a variety of vendors with locally grown produce, locally caught fish, baked bread, prepared foods and arts and crafts. We usually have musicians on stage and a table with children’s activities. After construction two summers ago kept us from being outside, this summer we will be able to host many of our usual booths outdoors in the ANB Hall/Baranof Island Housing Authority parking lot. To learn more about reserving booths for the Sitka Farmers Market, contact Johanna Willingham at 738-8336 or by e-mail at johanna.willingham@gmail.com. Vendor rules and other information can be found at this link.

If you have extra produce from your garden, the Sitka Local Foods Network table (outside ANB Hall by the Sitka Farmers Market sign) gladly accepts donations and will buy some produce to sell at its booth. The Sitka Local Foods Network sells produce grown at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden and a few other local gardens at its Sitka Farmers Market booth. All money raised by the Sitka Local Foods Network booth goes into various projects sponsored by the network — a 501(c)(3) non-profit group — including the Sitka Farmers Market, community gardens, the proposed Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center and other projects.

Local Food and Local Farms

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(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 5 of the Wednesday, June 20, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING LEEKS

Last year I had some gardening friends recommend that I try growing leeks.  I have to admit that I was not really familiar with leeks and had never thought about growing them.  I had been wanting to grow nice onions and hadn’t found anyone that had any real success with them, so I thought I would give the leeks a try.  I am so glad I did!  They are really hardy plants that work really well as onions.

I start my leeks from seeds in the sunroom on Feb. 15. The seeds can be planted very close together, about a half-inch apart. After germination I feed them once a week with a diluted liquid fertilizer. To prep the bed for them I like to amend the soil with plenty of food and organic material. My favorite natural amendments are starfish, compost, seaweed and seashell sand.

On April 15, when the seedlings are about 9 inches high, it’s time to transplant them outside. To transplant, I just take the block of soil and tightly packed seedlings out of the pot, separate the seedlings, trim the roots to 2 inches and plant them about 6 inches deep with about 9-12 inch spacing.  The green blades of fully grown leeks can be a little coarse and the white root are quite tender, so if you plant the seedlings deep you can force the leeks to have long, white, blanched roots.  As the leeks get bigger you can “hill” up the dirt around them to make the roots even longer.

Elliot Coleman, the leading expert in cool weather vegetable gardening, from Maine, recommends dropping the seedling into a 9-inch deep hole but not covering the plant with dirt. He says that over time the dirt will settle in on its own. Elliot Coleman has written several outstanding books that contain a lot of very useful information which Sitka gardeners can use. But as you read them, just keep in mind that although Maine is cold and has a maritime climate it is at the same latitude as Eugene, Ore. …. a huge difference in winter daylight.

Leeks can be harvested at any time, but they don’t reach full maturity until the fall.  As I mentioned earlier they are extremely hardy so they can be left out in the garden well after the first frost.

There is one more thing I would like to point out. I have been planting my leeks in beds that I have not been covering with row cover. This spring I planted a few of my leek seedlings in a friend’s garden as a favor while she was out of town. Her beds are covered with row cover.  When I went over to her house to check on things a few weeks ago I was amazed to see how much bigger her leeks were than mine … ABOUT 10 TIMES BIGGER!  I will not make the mistake of keeping them uncovered next year.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

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The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

On Friday, June 22, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued a paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) warning for Southeast Alaska shellfish. Please be aware that there have been several PSP blooms in recent years, and the PSP toxin has sent several people to the hospital and even resulted in a couple of deaths.

The state in general does not recommend the recreational or subsistence harvest of shellfish (in particular filter-feeding bi-valves such as clams, cockles, oysters, mussels and others) from Alaska beaches because they are not checked for the PSP toxin. Commercial shellfish is tested for PSP and safe to eat. In addition to the links in the press release below, here is a link to more information about PSP from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), http://searhc.org/publications/featured_stories/2011_06_psp.php. Now here is the text of the release:


Scientists advise against harvesting shellfish due to large “red tide” in Southeast Alaska

State health officials remind public about risks

 

ANCHORAGE — Warm weather combined with an increasingly large algae bloom in Southeast Alaska has scientists advising extra caution to would-be recreational shellfish harvesters. Water samples taken from around Etolin Island show increasing levels of Alexandrium algae, which produces paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in shellfish. Tests have also shown a slight increase in Alexandrium levels on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island as well as extremely high levels around Juneau.

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

Scientists have also identified unsafe levels of three different species of Dinophysis algae, which produces diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP), in samples from around Ketchikan. DSP can cause diarrhea, PSP can cause paralysis.

“These Alexandrium levels are similar to what we saw last year when we had such high levels of PSP toxins in shellfish,” said Kate Sullivan, with the University of Alaska Southeast and co-founder of the Alaska Harmful Algal Bloom Partnership (AHAB). “Last summer we had a number of cases, including four people who needed to be hospitalized. We want people to be extra cautious and remember that the only safe shellfish is the kind you buy at the store.”

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

Early signs of paralytic shellfish poisoning often include tingling of the lips and tongue. Symptoms may progress to tingling of fingers and toes, then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty breathing. Death can result in as little as two hours.

All locally harvested shellfish — including clams, mussels, oysters, geoducks and scallops — can contain paralytic shellfish poison. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but crab guts can contain unsafe levels of toxin and should be discarded. There is no way to tell if a beach is safe for harvesting by looking at it. Toxins can be present in large amounts even if the water looks clear. Also, the toxin can remain in shellfish long after the algae bloom is over. PSP cannot be cooked, cleaned or frozen out of shellfish. Commercially grown shellfish is tested and considered safe.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is considered a public health emergency. Suspected cases must be reported immediately to the Section of Epidemiology by health care providers at 907-269-8000 during work hours or 800-478-0084 after hours.

For more information on PSP go to:

http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/marine_toxins/, or

http://www.epi.alaska.gov/id/dod/psp/ParalyticShellfishPoisoningFactSheet.pdf

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The Sitka Seafood Festival is recruiting food and other vendors for its market on Saturday, Aug. 11, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Crescent Harbor Shelter. In past years vendors have sold local seafood items, arts and crafts, books, clothing and other items related to seafood and the oceans.

The third annual Sitka Seafood Festival (and Scottish Highland Games) takes place on Aug. 10-11 at various locations around downtown Sitka. The final schedule still is being organized, but in previous years there usually has been a seafood dinner on Friday night catered by guest and local chefs, followed by a market and fun events such as tote races and bobbing for fish heads on Saturday. There usually are guest musicians who play on Saturday night, and this year they’ve added a Scottish Highland Games where people can throw heavy stones or toss the caber (a large pole/tree trunk that must go end-over-end when it lands). Other new events this year include a Sitka Signature Seafood Dish contest and a wedding cake contest.

To learn more about the event, check out the website. To become a vendor, download the forms linked below and contact Christi (Wuerker) Henthorn at 738-9047 or christinawuerker@uwalumni.com.

• 2012 Sitka Seafood Festival Vendor Information and Registration Forms

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Where does your organic waste go? Do you compost it, or does it end up with the other trash on its way to the Lower 48? Join us from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, June 16, at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center parking lot to get the dirt on the situation as the Sick-A-Waste Compost Group hosts the Sitka Compost Expo.

This free event features a panel discussion from 1-2 p.m. featuring local gardeners, recyclers and other experts on composting, then there will be demonstrations from 2-4 p.m. on various compost methods. Learn how to get the most out of your organic waste, which will produce rich, healthy soil for growing new food while also saving the city the price of shipping compostable organic trash to the Lower 48.

The Sitka Compost Expo is one of several projects from the Sick-A-Waste Compost Group, which got its start during the 2011 Sitka Health Summit. The group also is setting up a large demonstration compost project in the Sawmill Cove area, which eventually will include fish plant waste and other compostable items. Several smaller groups also have compost areas — such as the Blatchley Community Gardens behind Blatchley Middle School (please follow the special parking instructions during this summer’s construction project at the school) and the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church — where individuals and businesses can take their leftover banana peels, coffee grounds, food scraps, lawn clippings and other items. Sitka has a desperate need for quality soil, and composting is one way to create new soil that’s great for gardening.

Klaudia Leccese of Sick-A-Waste was interviewed during the Wednesday, June 13, KCAW-Raven Radio Morning Edition show. The Sitka Compost Expo also was featured in the Friday, June 15, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel (password required to read story).

For more information about the Sitka Compost Expo, please contact Klaudia Leccese at 747-5830 or 752-5830.

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(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 6 of the Wednesday, June 13, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING CAULIFLOWER

Cauliflower is from the brassica family and all brassicas do really well here in Southeast Alaska. To prep your bed for cauliflower it should be amended with a fair amount of nitrogen as cauliflower is a heavy feeder. I like to prep my bed the previous fall with seaweed, seashell sand and salmon carcasses that are spaced about a foot apart. The next spring I start the seeds indoors around March 15.

All of the varieties I tried did well here, and the funny thing was that most of them matured at about the same time regardless of how many days the packets said were necessary. The only plants that matured later where the ones that were accidentally planted in partial shade. I think it might be a good idea to grow some in the sun and some in the shade on purpose to spread the harvest season out a bit.

I transplant the starts on April 15 while the starts are young and vigorous. If brassica starts get too old they will be stunted and not worth planting. The roots reach the boundaries of the 4-inch pot and the plant decides that its all the space it’s going to get so it stops growing.

When I transplant cauliflower starts I make a dish shaped depression in the soil and then dig a hole in the middle of it deep enough to bury the start up to its first true leaves. The depression acts as a catch basin for water to keep the starts from drying out. You would think that nothing would dry out with our weather, but a good raised bed that is properly amended with lots of sand can dry out in just one day of nice weather. I find it is also helpful to mulch the bed with a 4-inch layer of seaweed to ensure steady, adequate moisture. Just be sure the seaweed does not touch the plants so there is no chance of it rotting the tender starts.

Cauliflower needs to have lots of room to grow big beautiful heads so I like to space them at least 18 inches to 2 feet apart. When the starts are small it is tempting to crowd them close together to get more plants in the bed, but it is never worth it. If cauliflower plants are too close together they will produce little tiny heads, so try to imagine full-sized plants when you set them out.  I cover all my brassica beds with floating row cover and leave it on until July 15 to warm up the beds and protect the plants from the root maggot fly.

Many books will tell you that as cauliflower heads develop you need to “bleach” or “blanch” the heads by tying some leaves together over the top to protect them from the sun. This does not seem to be necessary here in Sitka. In fact, the year I tried it the slugs seemed very happy to have this great hiding area and ate my plants up. Sometimes the heads do turn slightly purple from the sun but it has no effect on their flavor.

It’s hard to know when to harvest cauliflower because it looks so beautiful and the heads just keep getting bigger and bigger, but if it goes past its prime the flowerets start to separate. This is called “ricing.” Ricing does not affect the flavor either, but for best results try to harvest cauliflower right before this happens. Once cauliflower is harvested the plant is finished and will not produce any more.

It’s a good idea to start some more seeds in June so that at harvest time you can pull the old plant, amend the spot with some compost and then pop a new start in for a second harvest later in the fall.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

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