• Sitka Local Foods Network to host April 24 meeting to discuss Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center

This is the inside of a community greenhouse built above the Arctic Circle in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada, that has been one of the models for the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center (Photo from http://www.cityfarmer.org/inuvik.html).

This is the inside of a community greenhouse built above the Arctic Circle in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada, that has been one of the models for the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center (Photo from http://www.cityfarmer.org/inuvik.html).

Are you interested in helping Sitka increase its access to fresh, locally grown produce all year round? The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a gathering from 7-8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24, at Harrigan Centennial Hall to discuss plans for the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center.

Building a community greenhouse and education center was a community wellness goal from the 2008 Sitka Health Summit, but over the years there were a few problems bringing the project to fruition (usually with securing land). We are looking to build a 30-foot–by-52-foot greenhouse on a couple of possible sites, including on the Sheldon Jackson Campus or near the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, among other locations around town. This is the closest we’ve come to being able to start building a community greenhouse, which will help provide Sitka residents with more local produce, and it also will work with schools and local residents to teach gardening and horticulture.

In addition to the availability of land, we have been offered locally harvested wood to build the greenhouse frame, which will be modeled after another successful greenhouse built near Sitka in 2011.

For more information, contact Kerry MacLane at 752-0654 or Doug Osborne at 966-8734.

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• Sitka Local Foods Network board reorganizes; recruiting three new board members and other volunteers

The 2011-12 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 2011-12 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 has a new president. Lisa Sadleir-Hart has taken the spot following the recent resignation by founding president Kerry MacLane, who wants to devote more time to getting the Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center built and other projects.

Joining Lisa as board officers for 2013 are Cathy Lieser as vice president, Linda Wilson as secretary and Maybelle Filler as treasurer. Kerry remains on the board, for now, but will leave the board once replacement board members are found. The Sitka Local Foods Network currently needs three new board members to complete the board of directors. In addition to Kerry’s planned departure, we recently had two board members move out of town.

Board members are concerned about increasing access to local food for all Sitka residents. They also are concerned about rising food prices in Sitka, and they want to advocate for more community and family gardens in Sitka.

Board members help direct the Sitka Local Foods Network, a non-profit that promotes the harvest and use of local food in Sitka. In addition to setting the focus of the group, board members also help on a wide variety of projects such as the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, Blatchley Community Garden, Let’s Grow Sitka, the Sick-A-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food Assessment project, Sitka Fish-To-Schools, other school education projects and more.

To apply for a spot on the board, please fill out the attached application and submit it to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.org. For more information, contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985.

We also are looking to increase our pool of volunteers who will help out during the various projects hosted by the network each year (no formal application needed, just send us your name/contact info and what types of projects you enjoy).

The next Sitka Local Foods Network board meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalists Fellowship Hall (408 Marine St.). The board generally meets from 6:30-8 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, except during the summer when board members are busy working with the Sitka Farmers Market and St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden.

• Sitka Local Foods Network board of directors application

• Sitka Local Foods Network seeks manager and co-manager for 2013 Sitka Farmers Markets

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe Sitka Local Foods Network is looking for a manager and co-manager to coordinate the 2013 Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. These are contract positions, and the manager and co-manager (who reports to the manager) receive small stipends for their work organizing the six scheduled farmers markets this summer.

This is the sixth year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features six markets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Saturday from July through September at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (this year’s dates are July 6, 20, Aug. 3, 17, 31, and Sept. 14). SLFNGroupwLindaThe farmers markets feature booths from local farmers/gardeners, local fishermen, and artisans and craftspeople. These events are great Sitka gathering places, and we promote local foods and other local goods at them.

A detailed description of the market manager duties can be found at the link below. For more information or to submit applications, contact Maybelle Filler at 747-2761 or 738-2761, or e-mail the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. The market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market reports to the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors.

• Description of duties for market manager of the Sitka Farmers Market Manager (2013)

• Help prepare St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm for spring planting and a summer of fresh veggies

StPetersSignWithToDoListSignThe Sitka Local Foods Network will host a work party from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 (Earth Day), to help get the garden beds ready at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm communal garden (located behind St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church on Lincoln Street). Produce grown at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm is sold during the Sitka Farmers Markets to help fund Sitka Local Foods Network projects throughout the year.

During these work parties we will need people to shovel dirt and sift soil, among other jobs. For those wanting to do lighter work, we need people to weed, mulch and spread fertilizer (seaweed) on the existing garden beds. Most garden tools will be provided, but we will need people to bring shovels and pick-axes if they have them.

For more information, contact St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener Laura Schmidt at 623-7003 or 738-7009, or contact Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985. We will start planting the gardens in May, once we’re past the final freeze. Additional work parties are scheduled for 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 11, and 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 18.

• Alaskans Own™ community supported fisheries program announces season subscription packages for Sitka, Juneau and Anchorage

AO_LogoSitka-based Alaskans Own seafood recently announced its subscription prices for its 2013 Community Supported Fisheries (CSF) program in Sitka and Juneau, and this year the program will start delivery to Anchorage.

Alaskans Own was the first CSF program in the state, modeling its program after the successful Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs that let customers deal directly with harvesters so they can buy subscription shares to the year’s crop/catch.

IMG_2716 (Custom)This is the fourth year of the Alaskans Own CSF program, and this year there are four-month and six-month subscriptions. The six-month subscriptions  allow people to keep receiving freshly caught seafood through October instead of August, when the traditional four-month subscriptions end. Half-subscriptions also are available. Subscriptions include a mix of locally caught black cod (sablefish), halibut, king salmon, coho salmon, lingcod and miscellaneous rockfish, depending on the commercial fishing season. This year there also will be a bonus box of tanner crab from the partner Alaska Marine Conservation Council program in Kodiak.

The Alaskans Own expansion into Anchorage recently was featured on the Alaska Dispatch website. The Alaskans Own program is associated with the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust. The Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust’s mission is to strengthen Alaskan fishing communities and marine resources through scientific research, education, and economic opportunity.

Here is Alaskans Own CSF program information provided in a recent e-mail sent to the program’s past subscribers and other interested folk:

Subscription shares are offered again as both a full or half share, 4 month or 6 month option. Subscriptions include a mix of black cod, halibut, king and coho salmon, lingcod and rockfish. Our approximately 1-lb. portions are flash-frozen and vacuum packed—enjoy now or keep frozen for your winter home pack. Pick-ups will take place once per month at the Mill Building/Sitka Sound Science Center in Sitka, at Reliable Transfer near the Nugget Mall in Juneau, and a location TBA in Anchorage.
  
Find all the details about our 4-month and 6-month subscriptions below.
2013 PRICES AND SPECIES MIX*
4-Month Summer Subscriptions (May, June, July, August)
 4-MONTH FULL SHARE: $535 total for 40 pounds of seafood:
Lingcod                  10 lbs.          (May)
Halibut                   4 lbs.          (May)
Black cod               2 lbs.           (June)
Misc. rockfish          8 lbs.          (June)
King salmon             6 lbs.          (July)
Coho salmon           10 lbs.         (August)
4-MONTH HALF SHARE: $290 for 20 pounds of seafood:
Lingcod                  5 lbs.          (May)
Halibut                   2 lbs.          (May)
Black cod               1 lbs.          (June)
Misc. rockfish          4 lbs.          (June)
King salmon             3 lbs.          (July)
Coho salmon            5 lbs.         (August)
 
6-Month Summer-Fall Subscriptions (May, June, July, August, September, October)
6-MONTH FULL SHARE: $795 for 60 pounds of seafood:
Lingcod                 15 lbs.          (8 lbs. May + 4 lbs. September)
Halibut                   6 lbs.          (4 lbs. May + 2 lbs. October)
Black cod               3 lbs.          (2 lbs. June + 1 lb. September)
Misc. rockfish         12 lbs.         (10 lbs. June + 5 lbs. September)
King salmon             9 lbs.          (6 lbs. July + 3 lbs. October)
Coho salmon          15 lbs.          (10 lbs. August + 5 lbs. October)
6-MONTH HALF SHARE: $415 for 30 pounds of seafood:
Lingcod                  8 lbs.          (4 lbs. May + 2 lbs. September)
Halibut                   3 lbs.          (2 lbs. May + 1 lbs. October)
Black cod                2 lbs.          (1 lb. June + 1 lb. September)
Misc. rockfish           6 lbs.         (5 lbs. June + 3 lbs. September)
King salmon             4 lbs.          (3 lbs. July + 1 lb. October)
Coho salmon            7 lbs.          (5 lbs. August + 2 lbs. October)
*The species mix outlined above is subject to change, as we are basing costs on estimated dock prices, which fluctuate throughout the season. For example, if in July king prices are higher than expected, we’ll provide a little less of that species and increase the pounds of coho you receive. Bottom line: we will ensure you get the best mix of seafood for the subscription price. Due to increased costs to shipping, labor, and other logistics, we have had to increase our subscriptions costs minimally this year.
How do you sign up for the 2013 season? Just reply to this email with your name, address, phone number and the subscription package you’d like. We’ll put you on the list and send a confirmation email along with instructions for payment. This year we will offer two different payment options: either send in a check to Alaskans Own or use PayPal on our new Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust website. Please do not pay for a share until you receive confirmation for your subscription.
Our first pick will be in late May, date to be announced. However, we expect our subscription slots to fill up soon–so, please don’t delay in getting your name on the list.
We appreciate your continued support of Alaskans Own.
For more information about subscribing, contact Alaskans Own at info@alaskansown.com. For information about the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, call 907-747-3477 or send e-mail to info@thealaskatrust.org.

• Sitka Community Food Assessment featured in the Tuesday, April 9, issue of the Daily Sitka Sentinel

Courtney Bobsin, a Jesuit Volunteer with the Sitka Conservation Society who is helping the Sitka Community Food Assessment collect data, has her computer logged in and ready to take the survey. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson, used with permission)

Courtney Bobsin, a Jesuit Volunteer with the Sitka Conservation Society who is helping the Sitka Community Food Assessment collect data, has her computer logged in and ready to take the survey. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson, used with permission)

(This article originally appeared in the Tuesday, April 9, 2013, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is used here with permission.)

Sitkans Taking Stock of Local Food Security

By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer

SitkaCommunityFoodAssessmentLogoCan you afford to eat the foods you want in Sitka?

How long could you survive on the food you have in your house today?

How often do you eat foods that are gathered locally?

The Sitka Food Security Survey is trying to find the answers to these and other questions related to food security in Sitka.

The survey is one of the projects of the Sitka Community Food Assessment group that was started at the 2012 Health Summit last fall.

“Community food security is looking at how secure are we as a community if for some reason something happened in the Lower 48 and we couldn’t get barges up here,” said Lisa Sadleir-Hart, the community food assessment coordinator for the Sitka Community Food Assessment project. “Are there things we could do differently? … We’re pretty dependent on the food coming from outside.”

The group is looking at food security from both a household standpoint and a community standpoint. While some information has been collected, more is needed on a home-by-home basis, Sadleir-Hart said.

To that end, Sadleir-Hart is hoping residents go online to participate in the food security survey to document where the problems are, where the strengths are and how to start addressing the shortcomings. The assessment will make it easier to apply for grants to help the community strengthen its food security position, she said.

“Our goal is 600 completed surveys, which is about 10 percent of the adult population here,” she said. She has set a tentative deadline by the end of this month.

Among many of the issues considered, Sadleir-Hart wonders how the 44-percent increase in food prices from 2006 to 2011 is affecting choices residents are making.

“Given these increases, fuel prices, housing prices, housing costs, at some point you have to make a decision: if you pay for one you might not be able to pay for something else,” she said. “People are hurting when it comes to food.”

The survey asks whether residents are able to eat as much as they need, and eat the foods they want to eat, or if they make sacrifices or eat less in order to feed others, when they are financially strapped.

Some of the focus in the survey is whether residents take advantage of foods that are available locally, including fish, deer, mushrooms, seaweed and berries, among the dozens of possibilities. Some questions are aimed at traditional and customary foods.

From a community standpoint, some data already indicates a level of “insecurity,” since 95 percent of the food Sitkans consume is shipped in from the Lower 48.

“Does our community have the capacity to feed itself if a natural disaster left us isolated?” is one of the survey’s underlying questions.

The assessment project’s goals are to create a community food security profile; map Sitka’s existing food resources and production capacity; and assess household food security, food accessibility, and food availability and affordability.

The work group for the project said community food security is a relatively new concept that covers a variety of disciplines, including community nutrition, nutrition education, public health, sustainable agriculture, and anti-hunger and community development.

“As such, no universally accepted definition exists,” the group said in a handout.

Sadleir-Hart said community food security can be seen as an expansion of the concept of household food security.

“Whereas household food security is concerned with the ability to acquire food at the household level, community food security focuses on the underlying social, economic and institutional factors within a community that affect the quantity and quality of food available …” the handout said.

Affordability is another issue that can affect community food security, Sadleir-Hart said.

The Sitka Community Food Assessment group from the Sitka Health Summit started by collecting data already available locally. Sitka Conservation Society contributed the Jesuit Volunteer, Courtney Bobsin, to work part-time to collect data on local producers, senior and tribal food programs, food banks and other food assistance programs.

“She’s been collecting lots of great information,” Sadleir-Hart said.

The assessment team is using the Food Security Toolkit from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to guide the process. Sadleir-Hart said the local effort received a head-start on the assessment by looking at Kenai’s food security survey designed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service. The Sitka Local Foods Network, which runs the Sitka Farmers Market, is also involved in the project.

The Sitka Community Food Assessment project received a $15,000 SEARHC Community Transformation Grant to fund Sadleir-Hart’s part-time position, and data analysis.

The goals of the assessment are to improve Sitka’s understanding of the local food system, identify the system’s strengths and weaknesses, inform decisions about policies and ways to improve Sitka’s security, and position Sitka to access grant funding for food system improvement.

Years ago, Sadleir-Hart said, more people in Sitka had vegetable gardens and some kept milk cows and other farm animals. The potential for increasing the amount of locally produced food still exists, and with it the prospect for economic development.

“There are a lot of different angles we could explore, from a community perspective,” she said.

Focus groups are also being called to continue to collect information about food and the community.

The Sitka Community Food Assessment group is looking ahead to the first annual Sitka Food Summit in November, when citizens review the findings of the data collection and start talking about ways to improve the current food system.

The survey can be reached by typing Sitka Community Food Assessment on Facebook, and going to the “Survey Monkey” link. The survey is filled out anonymously. The direct link to the survey is: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MQTF22Q.

• Sitka Tribe of Alaska submits editorial on protecting Pacific herring as a keystone forage fish

HerringBranches

(The following editorial about protecting forage fish, such as Pacific herring, was submitted to local media on April 11 by Sitka Tribe of Alaska tribal chairman Michael Baines.)

State of Alaska Denies Herring Forage Fish Status

2006 Herring collection 007Currently Pacific herring are acknowledged as a keystone forage fish species that is responsible for maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem in the waters of California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia (BC).  As you cross the maritime boundary between BC and Alaska herring lose their forage fish status and become just another commercially harvested finfish.  At a recent Board of Fish meeting in Anchorage, the Board heard testimony from fishery managers, the herring industry and the public on a proposal that would have acknowledged herring as a forage fish by adding them to the State’s Forage Fish Management Plan (FFMP).

The FFMP became effective in 1999 and was intended to prevent the development of new fisheries on forage fish while allowing existing commercial forage fisheries to continue.  The Plan states that forage fish perform a critical role in the marine ecosystem by transferring energy from primary (zooplankton) and secondary (phytoplankton) producers to upper trophic level shellfish, finfish, marine mammals and sea birds.  The Plan also recognizes that, “abundant populations of forage fish are necessary to sustain healthy populations of commercially important species of salmon, groundfish, halibut, and shellfish.” 

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game commented that adding herring the FFMP would not affect the way it currently manages herring fisheries in the State. When asked by the Board if herring met the definition and fulfilled the role of a forage fish as described in the Plan, the ADF&G Southeast Regional Commercial Fisheries Coordinator responded that he felt they did.

Supporters of the plan stressed that herring are an ecological keystone species that are recognized around the world as a forage fish.  The Federal government holds herring to a higher standard that other forage fish by having no directed fisheries on herring in federal waters and by listing them as a prohibited species that is not allowed to be retained as by-catch.

Herring industry representatives testified that they felt herring stocks are healthy, well managed and did not need to be acknowledged as a forage fish.  Concerns were also expressed that listing herring as a forage fish would lead to changes in the way herring are managed.  This would have required the State to look at herring in a different light.  It may have paved the way for more conservative forage fish friendly management plans to be brought forth through the Board of Fisheries process in the future.

Unfortunately for Alaskans, this proposal was voted down on a 4-3 vote.  Three of the opposing Board members are commercial fishermen or have ties to the commercial fishing industry.  These Board members reiterated comments made by the industry that herring stocks are healthy, well managed and did not need to be listed in the plan.

The arguments put forth by the industry representatives and members of the Board in opposition to the proposal were not germane to the issue of adding herring to the FFMP.  The health of a population has nothing to do with its definition as a forage fish.  If this were the case the Lynn Canal and Prince William Sound herring stocks would be considered forage fish while the apparently healthy Togiak stock would not have the same status.  Likewise, if acknowledging herring as a forage fish by adding them to the FFMP eventually changes the way stocks are managed, it should tell us something about their current management.

The acknowledgement of herring as a forage fish would have allowed managers to look at herring in a different light and might have paved the way for more conservative forage fish friendly management plans to be brought forth through the Board of Fisheries process in the future.  Refusal by the State of Alaska to acknowledge herring as a forage fish sends a message to the world about Alaska’s biased Board of Fish process and the State’s priorities when it comes to managing its marine resources.  Alaska boasts having the best managed fisheries in the world, but that reputation is now tarnished.  It’s a sad day for Alaskans when greed and political influence win out over the common good of all who live in this great State.

If you feel the Board of Fisheries erred in their decision to deny herring forage fish status, you are encouraged to contact Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and the Board of Fisheries and request that the State reconsider adding herring to the State’s FFMP.  This is an Alaskan resource that needs to be managed for the benefit of all Alaskans.

(Sent to)

Governor Sean Parnell, P.O. Box 110001, Juneau, AK 99811-0001, Phone (907) 465-3500, governor@alaska.gov

and

Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Board of Fisheries, P.O. Box 115526, 1255 W. 8th Street, Juneau, AK 99811-5526