• Sitka Local Foods Network building a pool of volunteers who can teach gardening


Are you an experienced Sitka gardener willing to share some of your knowledge? The Sitka Local Foods Network needs you. The Sitka Local Foods Network is building a pool of volunteers who can teach gardening to local residents who might be new to growing local food.

We’re looking for people who can teach all aspects of gardening, such as how to build a raised garden bed, how to amend soil, how to choose seeds and plant starts for our climate, how to manage your garden once it’s planted, and more. To learn more about our education plans and our efforts to build a pool of teaching volunteers, please join us for a Sitka Local Foods Network education committee meeting from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, March 3, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

While we encourage people who have completed the Master Gardener program to apply, you don’t have to be a Master Gardener for our list of teaching volunteers. Just send us a a note expressing your interest in teaching or helping with a class, what types of classes you’re comfortable teaching, and the best dates and times for teaching that class. Please list your prior experience with these skills (such as I’ve been growing my own garden in Sitka for 12 years).

In addition to skilled gardeners willing to teach basic gardening, we’re also looking for people who can teach Sitka residents how to gather seaweed and other beach greens, how to go berry picking, how to preserve and can food, how to field dress a deer, how to cook with some of the lesser-known veggies that grow in Sitka, and other local food skills. Also, please let us know if you can teach specialized classes, such as permaculture, hydroponics, square-foot gardening, container gardening, how to raise chickens, etc.

This spring our local University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service agent is retiring, so we’re trying to build a pool of volunteers who can provide gardening education until the UAF Cooperative Extension Service can hire a replacement. We might be without a Sitka agent for a period of time, and when they hire a new agent they may rewrite the job description.

To join our pool of teaching volunteers, send your information to charleswbingham3@gmail.com. Please put SLFN Education in the subject line of your email. Please send us a note if you’re willing to teach at a later date and not just this spring or summer. We thank you for your support.

• Alaska DEC, UAF Cooperative Extension to host food regulations training for farmers markets

Farmers Market Regs

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service will team up to offer two training sessions about food regulations for farmers markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both Wednesday, Feb. 26 (videoconference available in five locations, including Sitka) and on Thursday, Feb. 27 (by teleconference available statewide).

During these trainings you will learn how to market your products, how to set up your temporary food booth, and what foods do and do not require Alaska DEC permits. The course will be taught by Kate Idzorek with the UAF Cooperative Extension Service, and by Lorinda Lhotka and Morgan Poloni with the Alaska DEC Food Safety and Sanitation office. Kate will discuss marketing strategies including packaging and sampling, Lorinda will talk about Alaska DEC cottage food rules and the different types of permits, and Morgan review temporary food booth rules, resources and setup.

The first training will be offered by videoconference in five locations on Wednesday — Juneau, the Matanuska Valley, Soldotna, Fairbanks and Sitka. The Sitka videoconference site is University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus, Room 110 (see the flier for the other videoconference locations). The second training will be offered by teleconference or webinar (Go-To Meeting).

To register, go to http://bit.ly/MarketReg2014. For more information, contact Kate at 1-907-474-5211 or jizdorak@alaska.edu, or contact Morgan at 1-907-269-7501 or morgan.poloni@alaska.gov. The UAF Cooperative Extension Service can be reached (toll-free) at 1-877-520-5211. (Editor’s note: the three PowerPoint presentations from the Feb. 26 workshop are linked below as PDF files.)

• Cottage Foods at the market handout

• Food safety at farmers markets PowerPoint (opens as PDF file)

• Update on Alaska Farmers Markets Quest Card program PowerPoint (opens as PDF file)

• Sitka Maritime Heritage Society annual meeting features stories of harvesting and sharing foods from our local waters and shores

annual meet 2014 web

Local food will be the focus when the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society holds its annual meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Sheet’ká Kwáan Naa Kahídi. The meeting’s program topic is Harvesting and Sharing Foods from our Waters and Shores: Stories of Sitka’s Oldest Family Tradition. There will be mingling and refreshments starting at 6:30 p.m., with the program running from 7-9 p.m.

The meeting’s format, as in past years, is to have a panel of individuals with stories and experiences to share about the topic. In the second half of the program, the floor will be opened up to stories from the audience. The panel host and moderator will be longtime troller Eric Jordan.

According to the Sitka Maritime Heritage Society’s website:

Being able to get our food for our families from the ocean and shores is a big reason for living here. In fact, for many of us, it’s a big reason to live, period: the collective effort with friends and family, teaching and learning, the satisfaction of a productive day on the water (never dull!), the deep contentment of having food put up to feed our children and elders. As in past annual meetings, we are expecting a lot of laughter, and a lot of learning about our fellow Sitkans, this place we live in, family and history. Oh, and cookies.

For more information about the annual meeting, go to the group’s website, send email to sitkamaritime@gmail.com, or contact new executive director Carole Gibb at 747-3448.


• Sitka Food Hub sub-committees to host meetings on food storage, community kitchen


Summit_LogoThe two sub-committees from the Sitka Food Hub project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit will host meetings in the next week. The project has two main focus groups — to increase Sitka’s capacity for emergency food storage, and to create a community commercial kitchen that can be rented to local start-up businesses and residents who need a place to preserve food they’ve harvested.

The emergency food storage group will meet at noon on Friday, Feb. 14, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. This group is looking for ways to help improve and expand community food storage for disaster preparedness. It also will be looking for ways to help educate Sitka residents about how to improve their own family food storage to be better prepared for emergencies.

The community commercial kitchen group will meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 17, at Blatchley Middle School, Room 208. This group is trying to gauge the interest of local residents in having a rental commercial kitchen available for use. It also is looking at examples from other communities at how community commercial kitchens helped educate residents on food preservation, incubated local small businesses, and cultivated new opportunities for the community.

The next meeting for both groups combined is at 6:30 p.m on Thursday, March 6, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Fo more information about the project, contact Marjorie Hennessy at marjorie@sitkawild.org.

• Sitka Food Co-op to host second annual membership meeting on Feb. 22


The Sitka Food Co-op will host its second annual membership meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22, at Harrigan Centennial Hall. The meeting should last until about 11:30 a.m. and is open to all Sitka residents, regardless of co-op membership.

This meeting will give members and prospective members a chance to learn what the co-op is doing, where its going and how it plans to get there. There also will be elections for the board of directors (three seats are open, must be a co-op member to run), amendments to the by-laws, and there will be several new and important committees created. Co-op officers encourage people to attend and take part in building the co-op to the next level.

The Sitka Food Co-op was incorporated on Sept. 26, 2011, as a way to bring good food and community together. The purposes of the Sitka Food Co-op are to:

  • Create a community-based, member-owned buying service;
  • Make available wholesome natural and organic foods and products as inexpensively as possible;
  • Support and encourage local growing of fresh organic foods;
  • Purchase and purvey, whenever feasible, the goods or services of local and regional growers and producers; and
  • Serve as a center for activities and services which otherwise enrich the life of the community.

Please note that the Sitka Food Co-op is a separate organization than the Sitka Local Foods Network, even though we share some of the same goals.

To learn more about the Sitka Food Co-op and its annual meeting, email sitkafoodcoop@gmail.com or go to http://sitkafoodcoop.org/.

• Sitka Local Foods Network seeks manager and assistant manager for 2014 Sitka Farmers Markets

SitkaFarmersMarketSignThe Sitka Local Foods Network is looking for a manager and assistant manager to coordinate the 2014 Sitka Farmers Markets this summer. These are contract positions, and the manager and assistant manager (who reports to the manager) receive small compensation depending on experience for their work organizing the six scheduled farmers markets this summer.

This is the seventh year of operation for the Sitka Farmers Market, which features six markets from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other Saturday from June through September at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Founders Hall (this year’s tentative dates are June 28, July 12, 26, Aug. 9, 23, and Sept. 6). 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 738-1982 or mocampo25@hotmail.com, or you can email the Sitka Local Foods Network Board of Directors at sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com. Applications (cover letter, resume, three recommendations) are due by 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28. 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 (2014)

• State fixes glitch to Pick.Click.Give. program with online Alaska PFD application


Lovalaska FB Square PhotoGrid Tag (1)The state has fixed a recent glitch in the online application that kept Alaskans from making their Pick.Click.Give. donation selections when they filed for their 2014 Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend checks. Applicants now can go back into their PFD applications and select or fix their Pick.Click.Give. donation picks.

In an email to participating Pick.Click.Give. nonprofit organizations (including the Sitka Local Foods Network) program manager Heather Beaty wrote:

If you continue to receive reports of problems in completing the PFD application or making Pick.Click.Give. donations, please contact me (at hbeaty@pickclickgive.org) so we can follow up with the state. The PFD Division will send an email to Alaskans who experienced difficulty with the application process to let them know they can go back and add Pick.Click.Give. donations. Alaskans who had trouble with the PFD website can return to the PFD homepage and use the green “Add or Change Your Pick.Click.Give. Donation” button to make a donation.

This is the first year the Sitka Local Foods Network will participate in the Pick.Click.Give. program, which allows people to donate in $25 increments to their favorite statewide and local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations when they file their PFD applications from Jan. 1 through March 31. When you choose to donate part of your PFD to the Sitka Local Foods Network, you support the Sitka Farmers Market, St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, Blatchley Community Gardens, education programs about growing and preserving food, the sustainable use of traditional foods, the Sitka Community Food Assessment, the Sitka Food Summit, and a variety of other projects designed to increase access to healthy local foods in Sitka.

The Pick.Click.Give. program only is available to people who file their PFD applications online, and not to those who file by mail. Even though you can’t file a new PFD application after March 31, you can go into your application and update your Pick.Click.Give. donations through August.

You still can donate to the Sitka Local Foods Network if you aren’t from Alaska or aren’t eligible for a 2014 PFD. To donate, send your check to the Sitka Local Foods Network, 408 Marine St., Suite D, Sitka, Alaska, 99835. Our EIN is 26-4629930. Please let us know if you need a receipt for tax purposes. For more information about donating, you can send an email to sitkalocalfoodsnetwork@gmail.com.

• Sitka School District touts more state investment into local foods for school lunch programs


During its Feb. 4 meeting, the Sitka School Board put its weight behind an effort to increase funding for locally sourced food in schools across the state.

In a resolution to the legislature, the board cited the success of Sitka’s Fish to Schools program as justification for extending a similar statewide program beyond one year. Nutritional Alaskan Food for Schools (NAFS) was introduced by Rep. Bill Stoltze (R-Anchorage) in 2012, and piloted last year. This year the governor has included funding of $3 million dollars for the program — but only for one year. All schools in Alaska will receive funding from the program, based on student population. The Sitka School District and state-run Mount Edgecumbe High School received $39,000 from the program last year, which mostly went for seafood purchases (Mount Edgecumbe did buy some potatoes from Gustavus, and Pacific High School bought some vegetables from St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm).

In late January, Tracy Gagnon, who coordinates the Fish to Schools program for the Sitka Conservation Society, submitted the following letter to the editor to the Daily Sitka Sentinel outlining the reasons to support the program.

Nutritional Alaskan Foods for Schools

Dear Editor,

Sitka is one of the first communities in Alaska to push for local foods in schools through the Fish to Schools program; now it’s time to go state-wide. The Governor has included in his FY15 budget state funding to reimburse school districts for their purchases of Alaskan grown or caught foods through the Nutritional Alaskan Foods for Schools program (NAFS). This makes it possible for schools to serve local, nutritious foods to their students, sourcing from farmers, fishermen, and processors in or around their communities. NAFS improves Alaska’s food security and helps us create a more sustainable local food system.

Representative Stoltze proposed NAFS in 2011, and more than 100 vendors and 48 school districts benefited from this legislation in the 2012-2013 school year. Nearly 90 percent of those 48 school districts purchased local seafood.

Every year food producers and school food service providers wait anxiously every spring for NAFS to pass. And usually it’s too late for farmers to meet the extra demand because they’ve already planted their crops and food service has already purchased other foods. Making this funding permanent would provide both food service and food producers the consistency necessary for advanced planning and coordination of harvest to ensure supply meets demand.

The Sitka Conservation Society thanks both the leadership of Representative Stoltze and Governor Parnell for including NAFS in his proposed budget. We urge Alaska Legislators to support the permanent funding of a program that increases Alaska’s food security, catalyzes Alaska’s food production, supports local communities, and improves the health of our students.

Tracy Gagnon
Community Sustainability Organizer
Sitka Conservation Society

• Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project to hold meeting on Friday, Feb. 7

Sitka Local Foods Network President Kerry MacLane, left, and Sprucecot Garden Owner Judy Johnstone pose in front of one of the high tunnels recently erected on Judy's land on Peterson Street. (Photo Courtesy of KCAW-Raven Radio)

Sitka Local Foods Network President Kerry MacLane, left, and Sprucecot Garden Owner Judy Johnstone pose in front of one of the high tunnels recently erected on Judy’s land on Peterson Street. (Photo Courtesy of KCAW-Raven Radio)

The Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center project will hold its next meeting at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, at the Sprucecot B&B and Gardens at 308 Peterson St. This meeting is open to the public.

Judy Johnstone, who owns Sprucecot B&B and Gardens, is hosting the meeting, where participants will discuss the possibility of her donating her high-tunnel greenhouse to the project and the possible use of her garden site for community gardeners. She will provide refreshments.

In addition, committee members will report on the meeting we had with some of the gardeners from the Blatchley Community Gardens and research done on other sites. The new “mystery” sites are the former tank farm overlooking Indian Village and the two lots owned by Tess Hayburn (from the former Lane 7 eatery to the Back Street site, where her house was destroyed by a small plane that crashed into it a few years ago).

Please bring your creativity to the table, but try to keep your comments concise and on topic, as the meeting will end at 6:30 p.m. (i.e., no swapping of gardening stories … sorry!). Folks are welcome to stay and socialize after the meeting and swap all the stories they want. The Sitka Local Foods Network is supporting this project, but is not coordinating it.

For more information, call Kerry MacLane at 752-0654.