• Sitka Local Foods Network to host Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event and Shane Smith presentation

2013 LGS Flier-Feb 11-13CBEDITMark your calendars as the Sitka Local Foods Network will host two big garden events Saturday and Sunday, March 9-10, in Sitka.

The first event is a presentation by Shane Smith of the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Botanic Gardens from 11 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9,  in Room 229 of the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus. The second event is the fifth annual Let’s Grow Sitka garden education event from noon until 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 10, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall, 235 Katlian (don’t forget to set your clocks ahead an hour Saturday night).

Shane-SmithThe Sitka Local Foods Network is excited to bring Shane Smith to town to discuss gardens and greenhouses. Shane is the founder of the Cheyenne (Wyo.) Botanic Gardens and has been its director since 1977. Shane is the author of the Greenhouse Gardener’s Companion, and he will be signing copies of his book. Shane received the American Horticulture Society’s 2012 Great American Gardener Award.

Shane also will have a booth at Sunday’s Let’s Grow Sitka event, which is an annual event designed to get Sitka residents excited about the upcoming garden season. This annual event brings together local garden supply stores, local gardeners, landscapers and anybody who is interested in learning how to grow food and/or flowers.

There will be a wide variety of individuals and businesses with booths for the event, with some booths providing gardening information geared toward and others selling gardening supplies. Lunch will be available for purchase. There also will be a chance to learn from certified Master Gardeners, a chance to learn about greenhouses and high tunnels, an opportunity to buy seeds and seed potatoes, and there’s a scavenger hunt for the kids.

For more information, contact Linda Wilson at 747-3096 (evenings and weekends) or Cathy Lieser at 1-907-978-2572. Table space still may be available for people wanting to provide information about different types of gardening or gardening products/services available in Sitka.

The Sitka Local Foods Network thanks the City and Borough of Sitka, Shee Atika Corp., and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Diabetes Programs for their help in making these events possible.

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

Bob Gorman, Extension Agent of the Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, shows some germinating seed starts during a free garden workshop on March 11, 2009.

Bob Gorman, Extension Agent of the Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service, shows some germinating seed starts during a free garden workshop on March 11, 2009.

The Sitka office of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will host a Master Gardener class in Sitka starting on Thursday, March 7. This will be the last Master Gardener certification course offered in Sitka until at least 2015.

The course is a basic horticulture class covering such topics as soil and pest management, food gardening, greenhouses and season extenders, and plant propagation.

The purpose of the service learning class is to train community people who will provide 40 hours of Master Gardener-related community service in Sitka.

MG March 2013 SitkaThe class costs $150 including the manual, handouts, supplies, and instruction. The class consists of lectures, demonstrations, reading, laboratory exercises, videos and DVD’s. The instructor is Sitka-based UAF Cooperative Extension Service Agent Bob Gorman.

Preregistration is necessary. To register for the class go to http://bit.ly/ces-workshops or call 907-747-9440.

The class begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 7,  and finishes April 18 with a final exam. Instruction is on six Saturdays and four Thursdays. Part of the Alaska Master Gardener and Southeast Alaska Master Gardener programs include public service, where Master Gardener students help with community gardening projects.

Students should be high school graduates, GED or similar education level. Home school and high school students are welcome.

For questions about the class or course content, contact the instructor at 907-747-9440.

• Sitka Master Gardener Class Syllabus, Spring 2013

• Sitka Master Gardener class press release

• UAF Cooperative Extension Service flier for Master Gardener class in Sitka

• Pacific High School seeks VISTA volunteer to lead school lunch program

PHS VISTA flyerPacific High School, the alternative high school in Sitka, has been awarded a VISTA volunteer for up to three years to develop the school’s lunch program for replication, and to add summer food service and farm-to-school elements.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for a person with a passion for food to gain program development skills and really make a difference in food systems here in Sitka,” Pacific High co-principal Sarah Ferrency said.

Applications are being accepted with the job to start in April. To apply, go to the Corporation of National Services website. A two-page job description is posted below. For more information, contact Sarah Ferrency at ferrencys@sitkaschools.org.

• Healthy Lunch, Healthy Life VISTA job description

• Pacific High School VISTA flier

• Sitka Conservation Society, other groups to host Sitka Food Film Festival on Feb. 22-24

Food Film FestThe Sitka Conservation Society and several other partners will host the Sitka Food Film Festival on Friday through Sunday, Feb. 22-24, at Harrigan Centennial Hall and the Larkspur Cafe. The films are free, but donations will be accepted to help cover costs.

In addition to the dozen films, the festival will feature an appearance by Tlingít chef Robert Kinneen about the Store Outside Your Door (a project with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) promoting healthy traditional foods). There also will be a roundtable discussion about Sitka’s food resiliency (food security).

The festival opens with a feature film TBA at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night at the Larkspur Cafe.

On Saturday at Harrigan Centennial Hall, the schedule includes Ratatouille (a family friendly movie) at 10 a.m., Ingredients at 12:30 p.m., End of the Line at 2:30 p.m., Two Angry Moms at 3:45 p.m., followed by a roundtable discussion about Sitka’s food resiliency from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday’s schedule concludes with another feature film TBA at 8:30 p.m. at the Larkspur Cafe.

Sunday’s schedule at Harrigan Centennial Hall opens with A Feast At Midnight (a family friendly movie) at 10 a.m., Food Fight at 12:30 p.m., Bitter Seeds at 2:30 p.m., and Food Stamped at 4 p.m. Robert Kinneen is the keynote speaker at 6 p.m., discussing the Store Outside Your Door and showing film shorts from the project. The festival concludes at 7 p.m. with The Economics of Happiness.

Besides the Sitka Conservation Society, the film festival is sponsored by the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, SEARHC, Sitka Food Co-op, ArtChange Inc., Sitka Film Society, Alaska Pure Sea Salt Co., and the Larkspur Cafe. On Tuesday, Feb. 19, Tracy Gagnon with the Sitka Conservation Society and Andrianna Natsoulas with the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust were interviewed on KCAW-Raven Radio’s Morning Edition program about the film festival, and you can click here to listen to the interview.

• Sitka residents say ‘No’ to genetically modified salmon during Feb. 9 rally


Size comparison of an AquAdvantage® Salmon (background) vs. a non-transgenic Atlantic salmon sibling (foreground) of the same age. (CREDIT AquaBounty)

Size comparison of an AquAdvantage® Salmon (background) vs. a non-transgenic Atlantic salmon sibling (foreground) of the same age. (CREDIT AquaBounty)

Between 100 and 150 Sitka residents braved the wind and rain on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Crescent Harbor Shelter to protest the possible U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of genetically modified salmon (aka, GMO or GE salmon, or Frankenfish).

The rally (click here to listen to rally coverage from KCAW-Raven Radio) was in protest of a genetically engineered salmon from the Massachusetts company AquaBounty Technologies, called the AquAdvantage® Salmon. The GMO salmon starts with an Atlantic salmon commonly used in fish farms, but adds genes from a Pacific king (chinook) salmon to promote growth and genes from an eel-like fish called an ocean pout that grows all year round instead of seasonally. According to AquaBounty, all of the commercialized fish will be female and sterile, and the fish are designed to be raised in fresh-water pens or tanks on land instead of the usual salt-water pens where most farmed Atlantic salmon are raised. AquaBounty promotes the fish as a faster-growing farmed salmon that takes half the time to reach maturity and be sent to market. To learn more about GMO salmon, read our post from 2010.

PaulRiouxSignsPaul Rioux — the Sitka resident who organized the rally with the help of local fishing groups, the Sitka Conservation Society, and others — said fishermen are concerned about what happens if these GMO salmon escape from pens. He noted that while AquaBounty said the fish will be sterile, other scientists said as many as 5 percent could be fertile, and that’s enough so that the GMO salmon as an invasive species could replace wild Pacific salmon within 40 salmon generations. DavidWilcoxSpeaksSignsDavid Wilcox, a 14-year-old Sitka resident who plans to run across the country to protest GMO foods, spoke for the other residents who said they were concerned with genetically engineered fish in general, and they worried this fish might go to market without being labeled as GMO salmon. (Click here to listen to Rioux, Wilcox and Ray Friedlander of the Sitka Conservation Society discuss why they held the rally during a Feb. 8 Morning Edition interview on KCAW-Raven Radio.)

SayNoToFrankenfishThe FDA, which has been looking at GMO salmon for more than a decade (AquaBounty started work on the fish in 1989), announced in December it planned to approve the genetically engineered fish, just in time for the holidays. At the same time, the FDA finally released environmental impact research papers it was supposed to have released in May. The FDA announcement also started a 60-day public comment period that was supposed to end on Feb. 25. On Feb. 13, the FDA extended the comment period until April 26. Sitka residents are encouraged to go to Regulations.gov and search for “GE salmon” (not “GMO”) to comment on the regulations before the April 26 deadline.

PatKehoeFrankenfishAlaska’s Congressional delegation agrees on few items, but Sen. Mark Begich, Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young have been united for a couple of years in their efforts to stop Frankenfish. Sen. Begich this week introduced two bills banning GMO salmon. Last May, Sen. Murkowski introduced an amendment (that failed 50-46) requiring more study of GMO salmon by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). In the House, Rep. Young has been one of the most vocal opponents of Frankenfish and in February he introduced a bill requiring GMO salmon be labeled. In the Alaska House of Representatives, Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) and Rep. Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) introduced an anti-Frankenfish bill that passed out of the House Fisheries Committee this week.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.